VIDEO Peter, Do You Love Me?

John MacArthur Nov 20, 2016

For this morning, we come we come to the 21st chapter of John, and this morning we’re going to finish our study of this incredibly important gospel.  Somebody asked me if I’m always kind of glad when you come to the end of a book and have the satisfaction that it’s completed, and the truth is I have the very opposite reaction. I hate to let it go, because it’s likely that I’ll never be back again to do this; and this is such an incredibly powerful life-transforming experience, especially for me, because of the intensity that I apply to it in order to bring a message to you on the Lord’s Day. So it’s with a measure of sadness that we come to the end of the gospel of John, but it’s going to be, I trust, a wonderfully helpful consummation as we look at the final section. That final section of chapter 21 looks like a lot of verses, and maybe it could be stretched out a little bit. But it is really faithful to the intent of John not to get bogged down here and wander off into all the world and preach the gospel everywhere, but to stick with the emphasis here. This section is really driven right at Peter. Peter, of course, has already been high-profile in the first half of chapter 21. Again, Peter had acted disobediently; and because he was a leader, he led the other apostles who were with him into disobedience.

You remember I told you, they were supposed to be in a mountain waiting for the Lord, but Peter decided that he was going to abandon his call to ministry, if you will, and go back to fishing. There were reasons for that. He had denied the Lord on three separate occasions. I think he felt inadequate. I think he felt guilty. I think he felt weak. He also was a man who didn’t have a lot of patience. He had not yet, along with the apostles, received the Holy Spirit. They were doubtful of their own power, their own ability, to sustain a ministry he knew that he had failed so many times.

The Lord had rebuked him so many times; the others were unsure about the future even though they had seen the risen Christ for the third time in chapter 21 when He met them for breakfast on the shore of the lake in Galilee. So we understand that Peter was really vacillating in his commitment to ministry. If the gospel ended there we wouldn’t really know whether Peter had an official recommissioning, so we’re grateful for verses 15 and following, because this is the restoration, the recalling of Peter, the reassignment of the ministry that God had given him through Christ at the very beginning of the ministry of our Lord.

Back in Matthew 4:19 Jesus met these fishermen, including Peter; told them to drop their nets, leave it all behind and He would make them fishers of men. You remember they all dropped everything, followed Him. This is three years-plus later, and Peter has led his fishermen friends back to fishing in the first part of the chapter. That’s not the Lord’s plan for them. Peter is the leader; he needs to be restored, and behind him will come the others. God has very significant plans for this denying, impatient, impulsive leader by the name of Peter. And as we look at this final section we’re going to see what is essentially a call to faithfulness for any believer, any disciple of Christ, anyone who is going to serve the Lord. This is what a committed Christian looks like. This is a characteristic of committed Christians. To see what our Lord elicits out of Peter is what He wants out of all of us. This is a wonderful model.

Let me begin in verse 15: “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ And He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’ – or – ‘feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because he said him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend’ – or feed – ‘My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’

“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom” – or chest – “at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ Therefore this saying wen tout among the brethren that the disciple would not die; yet Jesus didn’t say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Just a fascinating portion of Scripture directed at Peter.

Peter is beloved by all of us because he is like us. He has all the failures that we are so familiar with in our own lives. He overestimates himself and underestimates temptation. He think he’s more committed than he is. He thinks he loves the Lord more than he does. He thinks he can face any trial triumphantly; finds out he can’t. By the time we get to this point, even though he has seen the risen Christ, he is really a broken man.

The disciples have not yet received the Holy Spirit, so they have not yet been infused with power, and they are very familiar with their own impotence. It’s very easy for them, as we come to the epilogue in the gospel of John, to just kind of drift back to life the way it used to be, to go back to fishing, which this particular group had been engaged in, with the exception of Thomas. But the Lord is going to call him back, and with him the rest of them, back into significant ministry. They will subsequently be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and they will turn the world upside-down. But it requires a certain commitment for them to be that useful, so here you have a call to follow Christ. It has three components. It is a call to love Christ; it is a call to sacrifice for Christ; it is a call to follow Christ no matter what. That is universally the case.

For every believer, for every follower of Jesus Christ, there is the necessity of a call to love, a call to sacrifice, and a call to obey. That is the stuff of discipleship. So this is a very straightforward, somewhat simple – not simplistic, but simple in the sense that it’s very clear, “Look at what it means to be a disciple.” What comes out of those three things that are very easily articulated – love, sacrifice, and obedience – is still the fact that following Christ is not easy. To love that way is not easy, to sacrifice that way is not easy, and to obey that way is not easy. Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy, it costs everything, everything. We are told by our Lord Himself in His gospel calls that sinners are to submit completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, to find their lives by losing them, to fulfill their lives by emptying them, to live their lives by dying to self.

Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy. Our Lord repeatedly said, “It might require you to hate your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, and your own life. It might require you to turn from everything you possess, all your desires, all your ambitions.” “If you want to follow Me,” – Jesus said – “you must deny yourself, take up your cross,” – which means it may mean death – “and follow Me.” You need to count the cost, and the cost could be your life. The cost will be your life, and maybe your death. This is a very, very extreme call to follow a man.

Why would people do this? Jesus was actually calling for people to become His slave, to abandon their own ambition, desire, control; become slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is extreme. What would motivate that? Why would someone do that? What is the compelling desire that is going to cause me or you or anybody else to sacrifice my life for Christ, to spend my life obeying Him? What’s the motive? Well, that’s where we begin.

The motive is love. That is the only power that can motivate this kind of devotion. I think we understand that even on a human level that people who love greatly, sacrifice greatly. People who love greatly give up things. Love is a powerful, powerful emotion, powerful motivation.

Even earthly love is so powerful it can draw the best out of people, and it can also draw the worst. It is love that makes people sacrifice everything to live with one person the rest of their life. It is love that is so powerful it can destroy a family. It can destroy a marriage; it does all the time. It can destroy a life. It can lead to alcoholism, drugs, suicide, murder.

Love is a powerful emotion on a human level. It is so powerful that people sacrifice their own lives for it on the positive side, giving up their life for the one they love, giving up their life, if need be, for the children. Some have such great love for causes that are even beyond personal causes, that they will give their lives for their nation, for their neighbors.

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his philn, the ones He loves.” People die for love. It is a powerful, powerful motivation. And as far as Christians are concerned, according to 2 Corinthians 5:14, it is the love that we have for the Lord that controls us, that’s what Paul said. It is that love that controls us. Some of the translations of 2 Corinthians 5:14 say: constrains us, motivates us, drives us. Really you follow your love, you follow your love, the things you love; you follow those things in life, whatever they be, even objects that you love, experiences that you love, as well as people that you love.

Love is a powerful, powerful motivator, more powerful than any other. And when you move it into the spiritual dimension and the divine world, love is what causes us to serve the Lord in an extreme act of dedication. In fact, we go to the Old Testament, what do we hear our responsibility is? It is this, reiterated in Matthew 22:37 by our Lord Himself: “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That in itself sums up the law. You can have the law of God.

All His laws in the Old Testament directed toward how we respond to Him. You can condense them into the first half of the Decalogue, which relates to how we treat God, or you can condense them once more into one statement: “You love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That is how you are to live, you are to live a life of love. The Bible never calls for a life of legalism, a life of law, a life of dread, a life of fear; it always calls for us to love God.

And then the second part of that great command like it is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That fulfills the second half of the Decalogue and all the other laws that God gave that deal with human relationships. Love is the driving power in life. It is the driving power in the kingdom as well.

Back in Deuteronomy, when our Lord was reiterating His requirements for His people as they were on the brink of going into the Promised Land, chapter 6, verse 4,  He says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and on the front of your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” What are you writing? “The Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” That’s what you teach your children. That is the summation of all that should be said about our relationship to God.

Listen to the 10th chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 12: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul.” Do you see the totality of that commitment? Every faculty, every aspect of your being is to be loving God. And then as a result, “If you love God with all your heart and all your soul, you will keep the Lord’s commandments and statutes which I am commanding you today for good.”

Again, in chapter 11, “You shall” – verse 1 – “therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.” That’s Old Testament. It’s about loving God. That’s what God called the world to do, to love Him, to love Him.

Our Lord makes it clear in the 14th chapter of John. As you remember, on the night before His crucifixion in the upper room, verse 15, John 14, He says to the disciples and to all of us, “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.” Verse 21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.” Verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, he’ll keep My word. My Father will love him; We will come to him and Our abode with him.” Verse 28, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoice because I go to the Father.”

It’s all about love. From the beginning, from the Mosaic revelation to the very New Testament and all through the New Testament, and the summation of all that the apostles write, we are called to love God with all our faculties. It’s about loving Him.

John makes obviously a major point of this when he writes his epistles. His epistles are about loving God in the same way, and John extends them from not only loving God, but loving brothers. He does that in chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5 of 1 John. So when we talk about what characterizes believers, dedicated believers, it begins by saying they are driven by compelling love for Christ, compelling love for Christ.

Love is the power of obedience. Love is the power of duty. Love is the power of service. Love is the power of sacrifice. Love is the power of worship. Love is the power of fellowship. Love is everything. So you see that in the opening verses, verses 15 to 17, and our Lord’s dialogue with the apostle Peter. Here is a man who needs a total restoration.

Now somebody might say, “You know, he’s going to have to have six weeks of therapy to get him back to where he needs to be. There’s got to be a process here. There’s got to be some kind of path. There’s got to be some kind of course he needs to run. There have to be things he needs to learn. Sanctification is a very complicated thing to get him back on track. We’ve got to have him deal with a lot of his past, and plow through and figure things out, and assess things, and find a way forward.”

No. The Lord asks him one question three times: “Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” because you will follow what you love. You will serve what you love. You will sacrifice for what you love, who you love. That’s the question.

So for us to understand dedication commitment in the way that our Lord explains it here in the illustration with Peter, we start by understanding that a committed Christian lives a life compelled by love for Christ. This is very practical. It’s a wonderful way to end this glorious gospel of John. It almost seems, I suppose, like we’ve come down off this incredible high of the resurrection, post resurrection appearances, and now we’re down with the stumbling and bumbling people in the final chapter. But you have to understand that the glory of Christ is going to be placed in the hands of these stumbling, bumbling people; that this treasure, as Paul says, is in earthen vessels. And so we need to learn at the very end of this the kind of people that God is depending on to proclaim the glory of this gospel.

Now look, Peter overestimated himself a lot. But even in the upper room on Thursday night before the crucifixion, Jesus was talking about the fact that He was going to be leaving, verse 33: “Little children,” – John 13 – “I’m with you a little while longer. You’ll seek Me. As I said to the Jews, I also say to you, ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’ A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you’re My disciples, if you have love for one another.” That is not only the essence of our relationship with God, it’s the essence of our relationship with each other.

“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’” And he did.

Three separate occasions, and in each of the three occasions, there were multiple denials. All of them happened that one night at the trial of Jesus in the house of the high priest. Peter had already seen Christ twice, and a third time on the shore of Galilee, so he knew He was alive. But he still had serious doubts about himself, and our Lord had to go to the core of the issue. He had been told to go to Galilee and wait for the Lord. Instead, he went up there for a little while and then went back to his old career, and took all his friends with him.

“Let’s go back to fishing.” That’s what they did before it all began. “We know how to do that; let’s go back and do that.” That wasn’t God’s plan for them. That wasn’t the Lord’s will. So Peter needed to be restored, and we need to know what happens to Peter at the end of the story.

This is a public restoration, by the way, because he’s not alone here. Back in verse 2 you have a list of all of the other disciples who were with him: Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, Philip and Andrew most likely – the crew, for the most part, that were the fishermen, with the addition of Thomas. And our Lord has prepared breakfast for them after the wonderful, miraculous catch of fish, and it’s now time to set the standard for discipleship and He’s going to start with Peter. They’ve all been disobedient; Peter’s going to be the example.

Verse 15: “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,” – by the way, John always refers to him as Simon Peter, which kind of gives us the whole picture before and after. I think there may be one exception to that in John’s gospel. But he chooses to call him Simon Peter. “But Jesus says to him, ‘Simon, son of John.’”

Now that must have gotten his attention. That was his name before he met the Lord, and the Lord had given him another name. “You used to be Simon, now you’re Peter.” Peter was the Lord’s name for him. But Peter had fallen so far that the Lord is using his old name, because he’s acting like his old self. This is like when you did something wrong and your mother called you by your entire name.

This must have been a shock. Peter didn’t necessarily want to be pointed out, he would like to have blended into the group. But he is pointed out, the Lord calls him out, and three times asked him if he loves Him, one for each occasion of denial. For each time that he denied Him, he gets an opportunity to be restored. And here is the restoration, it’s as simple as this: “Simon, son of John,” – or Jonas – “do you love Me?” That’s the question. That’s always the question to ask a disobedient believer, because what is being manifest in any act of disobedience is love. And when you act disobediently, you’re declaring love for something other than Christ, and Peter had done that.

So He says, “Do you love Me more than these?” These what, these men? No, because they had all done the same thing. They were all guilty of a loveless disobedience. He means nets, boats, fish. “Do you love Me more than these things that go with your former life? Are you prepared to give this up, to abandon all your successes, your chosen career? Are you willing to give it all up? Do you love Me enough to do that?”

And the word He uses is agapaó. That’s that high love – the noblest, purest, best; the love of the will. We talk about agape love; that’s a noun form of it. It is love in its fullest sense, love in its deepest sense, love in its greatest sense, love, I guess you could say, in its purest form – divine love.

“Do you really love Me, Peter, at the highest level?” That is the critical question. And that is the key to commitment. It was John Calvin who said, “No man will steadily persevere in the discharge of his ministry unless the love of Christ shall reign in his heart.”

“Do you love Me enough to live for Me? Do you love Me enough to walk away from this? Are you constrained by loving Me? Do you have a love for Me” – in the words of Paul in Ephesians 6:24 – “that is incorruptible love? Do you really love Me in the fullest sense?”

So Peter replies, “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’” But he changed the word. Jesus used the word agapaó, Peter used the word phileó, he dropped down a notch. Phileó is a kind of brotherly love, kind of warm affection, a friendship love.

Look, Peter couldn’t say, “Yes, You know that I love You at the highest level of love.” That just wouldn’t fly. I mean he had denied Him, and now He had disobeyed Him, and He had enough sense not to be an absolute hypocrite and say, “Of course, I love You at the highest level.” So he says, “Lord, I have great affection for You.” He dared not claim agapaó, but he did claim phileó. But even with that, he has to lean on omniscience: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Now some people think omniscience is frightening; I think it’s a blessing. You say, “Well, that means the Lord knows everything you’re thinking, the Lord knows all about you.” Absolutely. What a blessing that is, because even when we don’t demonstrate it, He knows we love Him.

I’m happy to allow Him to know the things that I wish He wouldn’t know if He can also know the things that I desperately want Him to know, that I love Him. And he had to appeal to the omniscience of the Lord. In a broken and a contrite spirit he refuses to acknowledge the love at the level our Lord put it. But he says, “I have a great affection for You. It’s not what it should be, but it’s real.”

This is amazing. He said to him, “Tend” – or – “feed” – boskó is the verb – “pasture My lambs, pasture My lambs.” Amazing. With a less than perfect love, with a less than ideal love, with a less than noble love, with a less than elevated love, the Lord accepts him and says, “Pasture My lambs. Feed My lambs.”

And I just want to call to your attention that personal pronoun is very important, because whoever we shepherd doesn’t belong to us. This is a calling that Peter reminds all of us about in 1 Peter 5 when he writes and he says, “We are all under-shepherds and Christ is the Chief Shepherd.”

If you’re in ministry, if you’re caring for any other believers in any way, you are shepherding His sheep, not yours. No congregation belongs to a pastor or an elder. No Sunday School class belongs to a teacher. No believers in a family belong, in a spiritual sense, to parents. They’re His. It’s a stewardship that in some ways is really frightening. That’s why in Matthew the Lord tells us to be careful how we treat each other, because not only do they belong to Christ, but Christ is in them. So many people don’t understand pastoral ministry as caring for His sheep.

“Peter, pasture My lambs. The most vulnerable, the most weak, the most prone to wander, the most delicate – I turn them over to you. Care for them.” That’s what pastoral ministry is. It’s not about the world, it’s not about how you handle a culture, it’s how you handle His sheep. “If you love Me, then give your life to shepherding My lambs – the most vulnerable, the most dangerous, the weakest.”

You say, “Well that’s wonderful that the Lord would settle for that.” It is, but He’s not done. Verse 16: “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’” Same word agapaó. “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ ‘Okay,’ He said to Him, ‘Shepherd My sheep, not just the little ones, but all the rest.’ In other words, ‘No more fishing; shepherd My sheep. This is your calling.’”

And then in verse 17, “He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John,’ – again, painfully repeated three times – ‘do you love Me?’ – and with that word, He dropped down to Peter’s word – ‘Do you really phileó Me?’ – in other words, He’s questioning even that – ‘Do you really have strong affection for Me? Do you really?’” Peter’s deeds didn’t even support that.

Jesus probes deep into Peter. This is corrective surgery. It cuts deep, it’s painful, but it can be healed. “He says,” – says John – “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time.” He’s not grieved because He said it three times; there were three denials. He’s grieved, because the third time He says, “Do you phileó Me?” and even questions that love. “And, again, he says, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep, tend My sheep, pasture My sheep. No more fishing. No more fishing. Your job is My little lambs, My sheep.’”

Back in chapter 10 He talked about how He loved the sheep, how He gave His life for the sheep, how the sheep knew Him and He knew them. And now He’s handing them over to Peter. “I’m entrusting you with them, and I need to know that you love Me more than you love this, so that you’re going to be faithful to give your life for them.” So three times Peter had the opportunity to tell the Lord he loved Him. You might have thought that the Lord would have discarded Peter at this point since Peter really couldn’t even defend, by his behavior, that lower level of love. But the Lord accepted him and said, “Pasture My sheep.”

We are truly clay pots. The Lord has to use those of us who have an inferior love. First Thessalonians 4 talks about how we’re taught of God to love in verse 9. And then verse 10 it says, “But you need to excel even more.” We’re told that our love should abound.

But this is where all Christian commitment starts: “Do you love Christ more than” – fill in the blank, whatever it is. “Do you love Him more? Then serve Him.” I can tell what you love by what you serve, what you do, what the priorities of your life are. A committed Christian is compelled, driven by love for Christ, and that shows up in his or her life, a life given to His flock.

Secondly – and this is equally important and builds on the first – a committed lives a life compelled by love for Christ, and secondly, characterized by sacrifice for Christ. This is costly love. I already quoted Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross” – it could mean you’re going to die.

And that’s exactly what Peter hears in verse 18: “Truly, truly, I say to you,” – that’s been repeated many times in the gospel of John: truly, truly, a formula for something that is absolutely true – “I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished. You put on your own belt, you lived your life the way you wanted to. You had freedom, you called the shots, you did whatever you wanted to do. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

He’s saying to Peter, “In the future, Peter, you’re going to be taken prisoner. You’re going to be bound and hauled off to a place you don’t want to go. Then” – He says – “you’re going to stretch out your hands” – that is a euphemism for crucifixion. That’s how people were crucified. He’s telling Peter, “When you get old, Peter, you’re going to be crucified. You’re going to be taken prisoner and you’re going to be crucified.”

How do I know that? Verse 19 says it: “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” Peter finds out here he’s going to be a martyr. He’s going to be a crucified martyr. And you remember the story that tradition gives us, that when it came time for him to be crucified, he didn’t feel he was worthy to be crucified as the Lord was, so he asked to be crucified upside-down. “So, Peter, welcome back to the ministry. Go feed My sheep, go feed My lambs, and know this, that sometime in the future when you’re old, you’re going to be arrested, you’re going to be crucified.”

You might stop and say, “Well that is really bad news. Why would You tell him that? Why would you tell Him that? Better not to know, right, let it be a surprise.” No, it’s important to tell him that. He needed to know what? He needed to know that the next time he got in a life and death situation he would not deny his Lord. He needed to know that. He needed to know that when they took him and captured him, and tied him up, and stretched out his hands, and nailed him to a cross, he would glorify God.

I think he lived the rest of his life with a newfound confidence that overcame his self-doubt, because he had been such a failure at the trial of Christ. I think this put power into his life. I think this put hope into his heart. I think this added confidence to him and boldness. I think he may have otherwise feared that, “If I ever get into that situation again, what am I going to do?” and that would have sucked all of his confidence out. This is a great gift to this man: “You’re going to be arrested, crucified. You’re going to die, but in it, you’re going to glorify God.” Good news.

This is the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s how believers live. This is the extreme requirement for a committed life. Peter had said, Luke 22, “I’m ready to go with you to prison and death.” Didn’t work out that way first time; it would work out that way the last time. In the end, he will die for his Lord. This is a beautiful life-changing promise. Peter has to be ecstatic, thrilled. His heart has to be soaring. His hopes are flying. His boldness is being elevated as he heads toward a triumphant encounter with those who will kill him for his faithfulness to Christ. That’s what dedication is.

The third thing: a life that is truly dedicated to the Lord is compelled by love for Christ, characterized by sacrifice for Christ, and content with following Christ. The end of verse 19: “When Jesus had spoken the words about Peter’s death, He said this to him, ‘Follow Me! Follow Me!’” So important: “Follow Me!” Simple enough.

In a wonderful gesture, I think the Lord turned and started walking away, and Peter’s going to follow Him, at least for two steps, because in verse 20 it says, “Peter turning around.” What? This guy is incorrigible. “What are you turning around for?”

Well, he saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, you know, the one who leaned on Jesus at the supper, that’s John. He sees John, you know, John, the one who asked the question, “Lord, who’s the one at the table who’s going to betray You?” And verse 21, “Peter seeing John said to Jesus, ‘Lord, Lord, what about him? So I’m going to be crucified. What about him?’” Peter is a project. “What about him?”

I love the answer. “Jesus says to him” – in verse 22, it’s really hyperbole and sarcasm – ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me! Look, if I decide he’s going to live till the second coming, it’s none of your business. Follow Me!’”

I mean this is the kind of focus that our Lord wants: “Follow Me! Don’t compare yourself with somebody else. Don’t ask what God has for somebody else, you just follow Me wherever that leads” – and for him, it’s going to lead to death. “What about John; it’s irrelevant. If I want him to live till the second coming, what is that to you?”

That would be interesting, wouldn’t it, if he were still here. Well, that’s what some people thought, verse 23: “Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die.” That’s gossip for you; they never get it right. It’s ridiculous, “John’s going to live till the second coming.”

The Lord has to straighten that out. Jesus didn’t say to him that he wouldn’t die, He just said, “If I want him to remain to come, what is that to you?” He had to correct a rumor, because if people actually believed Jesus said he wasn’t going to die and he died, then Jesus didn’t know, and they got it wrong. We’ve got to protect His integrity. “Peter, please, just follow Me. Don’t worry about John. Don’t worry about anybody else.” Like Paul, we’re not comparing ourselves with others, “Just follow Me.” First Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself.” You’ve got plenty to work on right there.

Peter would be faithful, he would be focused. And, oh, by the way, John didn’t live till the second coming, he died on the Isle of Patmos at the end of the first century in exile. But he also was Peter’s companion, right? From the Day of Pentecost on to the first part of the book of Acts, it was Peter and John together.

So the Lord wasn’t saying, “You’re not going to have anything to do with John.” The Lord was saying to him, “You follow My plan for you, not My plan for him.” Peter was crucified upside-down; John lived much longer than Peter. God had a different plan; Christ had a different plan for John.

Peter is restored. And, oh, by the way, John, who is being referred to here, adds his own little final note in verse 24: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” There is John saying, “The one that he was talking about, that’s me, and I’m the one who wrote all of this and it’s the truth.” The apostle authenticates his own gospel. The apostle authenticates his own gospel: “It’s the truth.” What a touching personal end.

And, again, why does it end this way? You know, we’ve been to the heights. We’ve been through the cross, through the resurrection. The glory of Christ has been demonstrated, verse 31, that culminating statement: “These things have been written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing might have life in His name,” – this great gospel reality.

And in the final chapter, we just come back down to earth and we meet these two guys. That is such a fitting ending, because the glory of the gospel eventually ends up with us, right, ends up with us and whether or not we’re going to love Christ, sacrifice for Him, and be content to follow Him.

And then a final word. There’s just one other question to ask: “Why didn’t John say more about Jesus?” Well, he says, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn’t contain the books that would be written.”

Now that may seem like hyperbole to you, but we live in a fascinating technological world. Just your life alone and all the words you’ve ever said, ever written, have ever been sent to you, written about you; all the interaction you’ve ever had in this world; I read by the time you’re done with your life could fill 320 libraries; and that just you, and who cares, right?

And you understand that there are so many bits of data in the world that they’re literally uncountable. It’s amazing how one person with one mouth and one pen can generate the volume of experiences that could be written about, conversations that could be recorded, letters that could be repeated, copied. Oh, by the way, it’s all copied, it’s in the cloud; not God’s cloud, it’s in Google’s cloud. But it’s also in God’s cloud. And you would be amazed to know that even though you probably have a maximum of, oh, maybe 20,000 words in your vocabulary, that stretches into an almost infinite number of bits just to represent your one life.

John didn’t know all about that, but he did know that if everything Jesus ever did was written out in full, and everything He ever said was recorded, the world wouldn’t be able to contain it; it would have to be up in the cloud. Someday we’ll have access to that. When we get into God’s cloud and go to heaven, I think we’ll know the full story.

Father, we thank You again this morning for a wonderful opportunity to have our lives examined by Your Word, because that’s what it does, it shines a light on us. It discloses us. It is the revealer of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We thank You for the searchlight of Your precious Word. We thank You for the joy that it brings, the comfort, the encouragement, the counsel, the wisdom, the knowledge, the conviction, the correction. And we would all want to be like You wished Peter to be, motivated by love for You over love for anything and everything else, not loving the world or the things that are in the world, because then the Love of the Father’s not in us. But loving You, we want to be willing to sacrifice for You in life, and even in death if need be. And just in that simple way, we want to follow You, not asking about somebody else or what you have for them, but what You have for us.

Lord, we want to be used by You with all of our frailty. We feel like Peter. We want to say we love You. We can’t climb a mountain of that highest love and say we’ve reached the peak. It’s a lesser love that we claim, and that might even be questionable. But You know our hearts, You know we love You, and we want to serve You. We want to shepherd Your sheep and tend Your lambs. So, Lord, would You count us faithful, know our hearts, and know that we do love You. We are willing to sacrifice for You. We do desire to follow; and in so doing, may You find us useful to Your glory. This is our prayer.

Thank You for all that this wonderful gospel has meant to us and will continue to mean. And as the messages go out around the world in years to come, may they always accomplish Your purpose. And may it be that the testimony that John has written, as he said, will be seen as true, as true. And may the truth enlighten many, many souls to salvation, for Your glory. Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-116

How To Be An Eloquent Preacher?

how to be an eloquent preacher?

March 4, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

An eloquent preacher is one who is persuasive in his speech. Weak believers are easily captivated by the eloquence of preachers. There are examples of believers who spoke well but fell away. It’s critical we do not love the person more than the word of God. Many hearers have fallen away in the process too.

Apollos was an eloquent and cultured man. A talented and blessed young man who could have chosen to do whatever he wanted with his life. Yet, he chose to preach the gospel – he did not know the full gospel. Whatever he knew he preached fearlessly.

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:24,25)

What can we learn from Apollos? Though eloquent in speech, he was ready to be corrected in his journey as a preacher of the Word. Aquila and Priscilla, having noticed he lacked the whole truth, taught Apollos the right way. He humbled himself and learnt the full gospel under their tutelage.

Who qualifies to be God’s Eloquent Preacher?

God chose Moses to be His preacher, to lead Israel. What was Moses’ state? By Moses own admission and our current earthly standards, he was unfit to lead.

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I am not a man of words (eloquent, fluent), neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am [a]slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

Not in God’s eyes. God chose humble Moses.

God chose Apostle Peter, an unlearned and ignorant man who spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives were transformed.

How passionate are we about glorifying God in all we do?
Is God looking for eloquence of speech in us? No.
He is looking for those who are unashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let God plough into the hearts of those who seek the truth and transform them for His glory.

Each day is a gift to cultivate our hearts and minds in Christ through prayer and bible meditation.

Pray for revival, a deeper rooting and grounding of the word in every believer. Maranatha, praise God and Amen!

Former NFL Player Jack Brewer Wants to Restore God Discipline to Schools

By Stephanie Martin -May 6, 2021

Jack Brewer

To tackle inequality, racial division and anti-police sentiments, former NFL player Jack Brewer is launching the Serving Institute, a faith-based program he says will return the much-needed “fear of God” and “fear of authority” to America’s classrooms.

Brewer, who’s been fighting global poverty through his foundation since 2006, also worked with the Police Athletic League in response to NFL players’ national anthem protests. After noticing that relations between the Black community and police “didn’t necessarily get better,” he began teaching pro athletes and prison inmates. Brewer realized that “access to education” is a key factor in “keeping us divided.”

Jack Brewer Addresses ‘Crazy Educational Gap’

In an interview with The Daily Wire, Jack Brewer explains that the Serving Institute is partnering with Liberty University on a faith-based curriculum for use in private schools. Programs for value-building, etiquette, grammar, sports, assessments, and interventions also are included.

Brewer is excited to “actually start doing something about this crazy educational gap [in America] that’s leaving these inner-city kids’ reading and math proficiency levels lower than third-world countries,” he says. During the summer months, students will do extra work to boost their scores.

Because another goal of the institute is to create “servant leaders,” students will be required to conduct community service—“even if they themselves are less fortunate.” Brewer says, “We’re going to…teach them that through service, they can also empower themselves while they’re empowering their communities.”

Students Need Accountability, Says Jack Brewer

Faith is vital to the Servant Institute, Brewer says, because “we’ve got to get God back in our schools. I’m a believer in that. And most importantly, we’ve got to get discipline back in our schools because when you’re raised in discipline, then you demand discipline from other people as well.”

Of the U.S. educational system, Brewer says, “We’ve gotten so free. When they pulled the paddles out of the schools in the mid-’80s, that’s where this all started. I say it all the time, some kids need the paddle. They need that, that fear of authority being able to tell them what’s right or wrong. That’s why you see people disrespecting cops like they do now.”

Disrespect won’t “go down in my school,” says Brewer. “I can’t paddle [students], but I’m going to do everything except for that. If you do anything that’s disrespectful…I will physically exert you as your punishment so you understand that you have to be held accountable. We need the fear of God back in our schools, and we need our parents to start being parents again and not friends.”

Brewer, a supporter of former President Trump, spoke at the Republican National Convention last August. Recalling his father standing up against a KKK rally in Texas, he said, “I know what racism looks like. I’ve seen it firsthand in America. It has no resemblance to President Trump.”

The former athlete added that he’s “fed up” with portrayals of the 45th president, saying the media “refuse to acknowledge what he’s actually done in the Black community. It’s confusing the minds of our innocent children.”

COMMENT:

I participated in prayer in school and remember when the Untied States Supreme Court kicked God out of school. We need to let God back in school and everywhere else.

Twisted Theology Is Protecting a Man Who Enjoys the Torture of Children, Says Rachael Denhollander

By Jessica Lea -May 7, 2021

josh duggar

Editor’s note: This article about Josh Duggar contains disturbing reports of sexual violence.


The alleged crimes of Josh Duggar, who was just released on bail pending trial, are  unspeakable. But what makes his story even more appalling, says victims advocate Rachael Denhollander, is the theology that is cushioning Duggar from the cost of those crimes.

“Everyone – EVERYONE else, from Josh’s own children, to a woman afraid to have him in the home, to his own wife, are bearing the risks and costs of his behavior,” said Rachael Denhollander in a Twitter thread. “And they are being told it is godly and right to do it.”

Denhollander is known for being the first woman to speak out publicly after filing a report against USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in history. Denhollander has shared she was groomed for Nasser’s abuse by being molested as a child in an evangelical church. She is now an attorney and advocate for abuse survivors. 

Rachael Denhollander: What Pastors Need to Know About Sexual Abuse

“I don’t even know where to begin with what we need to learn from this situation with Josh Duggar,” said Denhollander. “If you haven’t paid attention to updates, you should, because it is a glaring example of the problems we have in our legal system, and especially in conservative culture.” 

Duggar was arrested on April 29 for receiving and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each, and has pleaded not guilty. He is currently under house arrest while awaiting his trial, set to begin July 6. 

Josh Duggar Planned and Premeditated 

In November 2019, Homeland Security Investigations raided Josh Duggar’s business and confiscated three password-protected devices. On those devices were dozens of images depicting nude minors and child sex abuse materials. In a hearing Wednesday, Special Agent Gerald Faulkner testified that one of those devices contained files that were among the “top five worst I’ve ever had to examine.” Faulkner has been an agent for 11 years and worked over 1,000 child exploitation cases. 

“The images and videos Josh downloaded for his own sexual pleasure were of toddlers and babies being sexually assaulted,” said Denhollander. “18 months to 3 years old. He literally found sexual gratification in watching the sexual torture of babies and toddlers…The FBI agent who conducted the investigation said it was some of the worst material he’s ever gone through. Josh searched for it, and enjoyed it. Sit with that reality. Absorb what that means.”

Investigators found that Covenant Eyes, a porn accountability software, had been installed on one of the devices, but that Duggar allegedly bypassed it by partitioning his hard drive into two sections. Faulkner also testified that Duggar used a TOR browser to access the dark web anonymously.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said Denhollander. “This was planned, premeditated, and probably going on for a long time.” She believes it is highly unlikely that Josh Duggar’s wife, Anna, was unaware that he was looking at porn. “Out of every woman I’ve ever walked with whose husband had a porn problem,” said Denhollander, “it was NEVER a surprise…It’s pretty much guaranteed that somewhere along the way Anna knew Josh still had a porn addiction, but she was left to deal with it and fix it in silence and on her own, because that’s how we counsel couples in Christian circles. ‘Submission’ becomes a catch-phrase to protect.”

Denhollander sees Anna Duggar‘s silence about her husband’s sexual proclivities as  symptomatic of certain evangelical teachings about the proper role of wives. Denhollander referenced several concepts promoted in some conservative circles, including the complementarian teaching that wives need to respect and submit to their husbands. Some conservative Christians emphasize the idea that “God hates divorce” so much that they encourage women to stay in abusive situations. And it is not unusual for Christian women to be taught they are responsible for men’s lust. If they are married, women are encouraged to make sure to have regular sex with their husbands so that the men will not be unfaithful.

“[Anna] certainly couldn’t tell anyone, because that would not be respectful,” said Denhollander. “That’s how we counsel wives in these marriages. But she was certainly taught to have sex more to fix it. Her own mother-in-law wrote blog articles that said as much.” 

Denhollander went on to point out how Josh Duggar’s family and community, despite facing shocking and plentiful evidence that he sexually preys on children, is bending over backwards to make life easier for him. 

Josh Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, called people in his church to see if any would be custodians for his son when Josh was released on bail. “[Jim Bob] found a man willing to take [Josh] in,” said Denhollander. “Except that man’s wife teaches piano lessons to children, and she was not comfortable having Josh home with her all day, because she would be alone with him while her husband was at work. That didn’t matter to the husband, however. She has to find a new place to teach all those children because her husband wants Josh to live with them.”

The couple who have agreed to take Josh Duggar in are LaCount and Maria Reber. The Rebers have two children, including a 22-year-old daughter. The family hosts piano lessons out of their home, but have agreed to move the students to another location

Maria Reber has said that she is uncomfortable being alone with Josh Duggar and is also uncomfortable with her 22-year-old daughter being alone with him. However, at Wednesday’s hearing, Reber testified, “My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision.”

“Every single family who takes piano from her, and the wife herself, has to uproot their routine, livelihood and the child’s music education, because Josh,” said Denhollander. “Everyone is expected to bear the cost, except Josh. And the wife’s own very reasonable fears about being alone all day with a man who enjoys the sexual torture of toddlers didn’t matter to the husband either. The men in the situation are the leaders making the decisions while the women are expected to ‘submit.’”

Denhollander suggested that the Christians in this situation are living out twisted teachings on manhood and womanhood. And what is even more disturbing is that these teachings are pervasive. “The cost and impact is being born by everyone but the perpetrator, and the men given free reign to be ‘leaders,’” she said. “This is abusive culture. This is toxic Christianity. This is not manhood. This is not womanhood. This is depraved. And the worst part is, I know literally hundreds of women on the receiving end of this garbage. Josh, and this situation, aren’t the anomaly. They are the norm. Because we actually don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

Denhollander concluded:

Women are taught as the cause and solution to men’s sexual perversions. Until our theology changes to actually reflect Scripture, we shouldn’t be surprised at any of this. It’s a story I see every single day. It’s wicked. It’s evil. And it’s long past time that we called it that – not just the abuse, but the twisted theology that fuels it.


At Least 10 Things Great Churches Are For

By Sermoncentral on Apr 20, 2021

The church has often, intentionally or not, been branded as a community of people who are angry and therefore are against everything not church-y. This is especially true when we so vocally voice our protests and gang up to boycott every business that doesn’t look conservative-Christian-friendly enough. I’ve listened to too much lately. From all sides. Some opinions I agree with and others I don’t, but what I’ve concluded is ultimately this: If I’m going to be known or listened to, I want it to be because of what I’m FOR, not what I’m against.

Is it just me, or has the Internet and social media seemingly been flooded lately by a whole lot of vocal people expressing just how many things they’re against?

There’s a culture war going on, and it isn’t just the right versus the left. Society seems divided into all kinds of tribes and micro-communities, but issue after issue keeps dividing those micro-communities further. It’s very easy to join the fray – to get drafted into a war we don’t really feel is ours, but in which our emotions have become entangled, as if every major trending topic will most certainly determine our fate if we don’t speak up.

The church has often, intentionally or not, been branded as a community of people who are angry and therefore are against everything not church-y. This is especially true when we so vocally voice our protests and gang up to boycott every business that doesn’t look conservative-Christian-friendly enough.

I’ve listened to too much lately. From all sides. Some opinions I agree with and others I don’t, but what I’ve concluded is ultimately this: If I’m going to be known or listened to, I want it to be because of what I’m FOR, not what I’m against.

Please don’t misunderstand. There are lots of things that Christ-followers should be ardently against. We should be passionately against slavery and human trafficking, genocide, persecution, and oppression. We should be against doctrinal error within the church when it confuses or obscures the true message of the gospel. And we should even be against sin, especially in our own lives. After all, where sin thrives, humanity doesn’t.

My fear, though, is that the church is often branded, fairly or not, as the people who are against people. The church is against gay people, liberals, addicts, and sinners of all kinds. We’re against Target or Starbucks or Hollywood. We’re against pregnant teenagers, rock bands, and anyone who is inked or pierced. I realize I’m feeding into some of the stereotypes about the church that certainly don’t apply to even a majority of Christians. But some of this brand has been earned.

When it comes to my own ministry, and the way I lead the church I love, I want to major on the things that we’re for. I want to put down the weapons of the sarcastic juke and judgmental stab and instead take up the tools that are constructive. I would rather have a ministry of building people up with truth than tearing them down with it. For example…

1. We’re for truth – absolute, eternal truth in a world of uncertainty.

2.  We’re for love – showing love in practical, tangible ways in a self-serving world.

3.  We’re for life – imparting life in a world dominated by death and tragedy.

4.  We’re for human dignity – every person is a precious soul, and every soul matters deeply to God.

5.  We’re for healing – offering physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for the broken in a broken world.

6.  We’re for grace – the radical, Jesus-like kind that offends the religious and saves sinners.

7.  We’re for community – life-giving relationships between people who bear each other’s burdens.

8.  We’re for prayer – prayer that calls on an active and living God to move heaven and earth.

9.  We’re for faith – the kind that moves mountains, that expects God’s best.

10.  We’re for hope – that the King will return, rule, and reign in peace forever!

We’re for YOU! We’re for you because God created you, loves you, lived for you, died for you, rose for you, and draws you to himself in love no matter your background, no matter your sin, and no matter what your story looks like.

https://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/sermoncentral-at-least-10-things-great-churches-are-for-2536

The Grace of Good Rebuke

How to Love with Hard Words

Article by Marshall Segal Staff writer, desiringGod.org

How we give and receive rebuke reveals more about us than we might first realize. When was the last time someone rebuked you, and how did you respond? When was the last time you needed to rebuke someone? How did you respond?

When someone confronts us about a sin he sees in us, some of us get defensive and fire back. Others cower, withdraw, and crumble in self-pity. Still others, however, have learned to receive good rebuke for what it is: love. They know the secret others fail to grasp: Hard words are instrumental, indispensable, and precious along the path to godliness.

“Hard words are instrumental, indispensable, and precious along the path to godliness.”

Similarly, when someone sins against us, we often fall into one of two traps. Some of us default (often out of hurt or anger) to brutal honesty, the kind that wields truth to, consciously or unconsciously, harm others. Others of us resist confrontation at all costs, or we couch every hard word with every available pillow. In both cases, we fail to practice rebuke as an act of extraordinary love — either by speaking the truth without love or by failing to speak at all.

Second Corinthians 13 might not be the first text we think of for rebuke, but it does chart a wise course through the land mines that often make healthy, loving, and life-giving correction so difficult.

The Occasion of Rebuke

The particular sin Paul confronts in 2 Corinthians was likely more personally painful than many of us can imagine (2 Corinthians 2:1). The whole letter addresses a rebellion that arose in the church of Corinth against his authority and ministry, even after years of his investing there (2 Corinthians 10:1011:413:2–3).

While the situation (and stakes) may have been different for Paul, he faced the same question we face again and again within the church: When we see sin in one another, will we lovingly and graciously confront one another? Or will we avoid conflict out of fear? Or, in anger and impatience, will we heap shame and guilt on a brother or sister?

Before we get into how we rebuke, it’s worth pausing over why we need rebuke. We all need to rebuke and be rebuked because we all still sin (1 John 1:8). And sin is deadly serious. If we’re unwilling to rebuke one another, we need to ask if we really believe that sin is deceptive, destructive, and, if unrepentant, damning. Rebuke is part of a wider vigilance against the only enemy that can destroy us:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12–13)

Because sin is so serious, so awful, so devastating to a soul, we are to exhort one another every day. And sometimes, for any number of reasons, we need more than exhortation. We need rebuke. And if we see sin for what it really is, we should embrace, even rejoice in, good rebuke.

Knowing that we need rebuke, we need to learn to rebuke well — lovingly and honestly, graciously and firmly. And to rebuke well, we need to be deeply and passionately rooted in the gospel, we need to recognize and confront the sinfulness of sin (first in ourselves, and only then in others), and we need to learn the goal and heart of good rebuke.

The Goal of Good Rebuke

First, the goal. The goal of good rebuke is not rebuke. Rebuke is always a means, not an end. As Paul rebukes his opponents, he clarifies the goal (and repeats himself to be clear). “Your restoration is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:9). And then speaking to the whole church: “Aim for restoration” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Restoration, not mere correction, is the goal of godly rebuke.

The apostle — despite what these false teachers had done to him — didn’t want the Corinthians canceled or thrown out; he wanted them back as brothers. He wanted relationships restored, partnerships restored, the sweetness of unity and fellowship restored. How different might our churches, our disagreements, even our controversies be if more of us longed, prayed, and worked for restoration like Paul did? Restoration — the renewal and revival of once-broken (or even dead) love — is the goal of good rebuke.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,” Paul charges all believers, “you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). One way to cultivate the gentleness we need in godly correction is to focus on correction as a pathway to restoration. If restoration is the destination, it will shape and color what words we use and how we say them.

The Heart of Good Rebuke

While restoration is the aim, humility and love are the heart of good rebuke. We see this most clearly and powerfully in the previous verse: “We are glad when we are weak and you are strong” (2 Corinthians 13:9). Because restoration, not self-preservation or vindication, was his greatest burden, Paul was glad to be rejected and humiliated if it meant his offenders might finally repent and be forgiven and restored.

“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,” he wrote earlier in the same letter, “so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). I am content with insults and persecutions — literally, well pleased with insults and persecutions. That gladness was (and is) surprising, even offensive — and utterly Christian. Jesus had said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The heart of good rebuke knows that the power of God to convict, to redeem, to change often pours through our willingness to be weak.

“The power of God to convict, to redeem, to change often pours through our willingness to be weak.”

How did humility and love penetrate so deeply into his heart — a heart that had once violently opposed and persecuted believers? He immersed his heart in the heart of another. Again, Paul writes, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus endured the hardships of the cross for joy (Hebrews 12:2). Christian humility and love produce a joy strong enough to sacrifice for others, even for those who sin against us.

The Tone of Good Rebuke

While Paul’s heart was warm and humble toward the rebellious, and while he longed deeply and persistently for their restoration, he was not afraid to be severe if necessary. “For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me” (2 Corinthians 13:10). At times, severity is necessary when we rebuke one another. This severity, Paul specifically says later in the same verse, tears down (at least for the moment) instead of building up.

This may be the most uncomfortable word for many of us: severe. Do we ever really need to be severe? Especially today, in an often excessively sensitive and empathetic society, severity seems only and ever inappropriate (or worse). To some, severity sounds like abuse. If it hurts, it should not have been said, could be a proverb of our age. And it is a plague on our age. The wise know just how desperately we need hard words (Proverbs 15:31). The foolish hoard soft words, and flee anything even resembling reproof (Proverbs 12:113:1815:32). Mute. Block. Cancel. And the Old Testament warns us, in horror after horror, what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6).

Sometimes, when sin deceives us and entrenches itself in our souls, we need the grace of godly severity. Paul not only models this severity, but encourages it when appropriate: “Therefore rebuke them sharply” — same word — “that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). Severity if necessary, so that our brother or sister might be sound again.

The Reluctance of Good Rebuke

Rebuke, especially severe rebuke, should always be patient and reluctant — not impatient and impulsive. The apostle was willing to be severe if necessary in the path of love, but notice that he was willing, not eager.

“I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down” (2 Corinthians 13:10). I don’t want to be severe. I don’t want to tear you down. I don’t want it to get to that point. I have done all I know to do to avoid a harsher confrontation. I want to build you up and encourage you in Christ. I would rather plead and appeal than rebuke sharply.

We are not apostles, but God has given each of us some measure of influence in the body of Christ. We’re each uniquely placed in local congregations and empowered by the Spirit of God to serve in various ways. And though severity is sometimes necessary, God has given us our unique giftings and influence primarily for the sake of building one another up (1 Corinthians 14:1226), not tearing one another down. The church should be known as builders, not bulldozers.

Many of us, however, rarely even think about how we might intentionally build up someone else in the body. And when that’s the case, rebuke will rarely be received well, even when it is extended well. In the life of any local church, rebuke should be an occasional ripple in a mighty river of encouragement.

The Vital Ally of Good Rebuke

While this last lesson may be the most subtle lesson from the passage, it may also be the most revealing. “Your restoration,” Paul writes, “is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:9). And a couple of verses earlier: “We pray to God that you may not do wrong . . . but that you may do what is right” (2 Corinthians 13:7). If we are ready to rebuke someone, but are reluctant to pray for him, are we really as ready as we think?

“Rebuke without prayer is rebuke without power.”

What we want, in any good rebuke, is for God to bring the clarity and change in this person. We can muster the courage to say something, meticulously monitor our words and tone, repeatedly express our affection and hope, discretely draw in other concerned believers — and still, if God does not act, all the love in the world will fall on deaf ears. We are mere planters, waterers, rebukers; he alone makes any heart grow (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Before we rebuke, as we rebuke, and after we rebuke, we should always pray. Rebuke without prayer is rebuke without power. But rebuke with prayer is rebuke with the backing of heaven. So, confront sin when you see it, aiming for restoration from a heart of humility and love, with a reluctant willingness to be severe if necessary. But above all else, pray and ask God to part the waters of this person’s heart and finally deliver him from the enemy of his soul.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have two children and live in Minneapolis.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-grace-of-good-rebuke

VIDEO Canadian Pastor Swarmed and Arrested by ‘SWAT’ Team for ‘Inciting’ People to Attend Church

BY VICTORIA TAFT MAY 09, 2021

The last time we saw Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski he was seen on video chasing cops out of his church and calling them Nazis. They were there to inspect his church for too many parishioners on Good Friday.

Vee haf rools fo covet, Pastor Pawlowski.

On Saturday, the cops came back for Pawlowski, but they’d learned their lesson and didn’t come to his church. He might chase them out again and hurl truth bombs about the police state again.

Ezra Levant of Rebel News reported that the police hunted down Pawlowski on a highway, pulled him over, and dragged him off.

A heavily-armed SWAT team just took down a Christian pastor heading home from church. Police say he’s charged with “inciting” people to go to church. This is the second pastor jailed this year. We’re crowdfunding his lawyers at http://SaveArtur.com

Rebel News reports that Canadian Broadcasting apparently was tipped off about the bust and a photographer, with a very shaky hand, got video of the pastor being arrested.

Related: ‘Get Out, Nazis!’– Pastor Explodes in Righteous Anger, Kicks Out Canada’s COVID Cops at ‘Good Friday’ Service

The CBC photographer gloried in the bust of the pastor, hogtied and carried off by the heavily armed police. Except it wasn’t the pastor in this photo. It pictured his brother.

Related: Governor Lockdown, Gretchen Whitmer, ‘Borrowed’ Billionaire’s Jet to Fly to Florida While Demanding Her Subjects Stay Home

The reporter wrote on his Twitter account that “being a jerk has its consequences. He doesn’t seem to be laughing now.”

He later deleted his tweeted photo.

This is the image of the day. Pastor Artur Pawlowski being arrested today in Calgary. Being a jerk has its consequences. He doesn’t seem to be laughing now. I bet he’s yelling #GETMEOUT. Next up, KJJ when he goes to the remand to protest. #yyc #ahs #pastorarrest #COVID19AB #ableg pic.twitter.com/czhqNDML18

— Rod Maldaner (@rodmaldaner) May 8, 2021

Police have been cracking down on people who are not wearing masks outside, as well. Mass protests have ended up with people being arrested.

The pastor, who has fought against the coronavirus closures of churches in Canada, was hauled off “like he’s a terrorist,” according to Rebel News.

They hunted him down like he’s a terrorist.

Police cars swarmed him as he drove home from his church. They ordered him out of his car and made him kneel down on a busy highway.

Heavily-armed SWAT police arrested him. But he’s not a terrorist. He’s Artur Pawlowski, a Christian pastor. And he’s now in jail.

Pawlowski wondered when the police would come for him.

Related:‘Police State’: Cops Swarm ANOTHER Canadian Church for COVID Defiance and the Woke Crowd Cheers

He produced a video in advance to release in case.

If you’re watching this video it means they have successfully arrested me and I am in jail. If you would like to support me and support Rebel News and their legal team that is trying their best to get me out of this trouble please go to SaveArtur.com. … Help me, help my family, help my wife and my children to get me out of this horrible, illegal situation.

Pawlowski was driving home from his Saturday church service when the police arrested him “proactively” for breaking a “new court order” issued two days before.

Earlier today, police arrested an organizer of a church service who was in violation of a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services (AHS) in relation to mandatory compliance of public health orders for gatherings.

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, AHS obtained a Court of Queen’s Bench Order that applies to gatherings including protests, demonstrations and rallies. This order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits.

Earlier this morning, CPS lawfully enforced this order by proactively serving an organizer of a church service with the court order in an effort to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service were abiding by the current COVID-19 public health orders. The order was served prior to the church service, and CPS did not enter the church during the service.

The pastor was arrested for “inciting” a church service.

The service organizer acknowledged the injunction, but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees, and continued with the event.

As a result, Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski have both been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, promoting and attending an illegal public gathering.

The police press release explained that they understand the “people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest… however, we all must comply with public health orders to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.”

Translation: Church doesn’t contribute to your well-being. We know better than you.

Canadian attorney David Freiheit, who is a popular YouTuber called “Viva Frei,” summed up the tone in his country right now.

He wrote the tweet to Canadian leaders: “This is the new Canada. Pastors being arrested in the streets. Totalitarian regimes would be jealous. I would say ‘shame on you.’ But you can’t feel shame if you have no pride.”

Seems about right.

pjmedia.com/culture/victoria-taft/2021/05/09/canadian-pastor-swarmed-and-arrested-by-swat-team-for-inciting-people-to-attend-church-n1445601?


Disappointments Can Be Fixed … Here’s How

By Dr. James Scott, Jr. -April 9, 2021

dissapointment

This tweet on Twitter yesterday caught my attention:

“Studying the art of keeping in my feelings, as to not get let down. Again.”

Those words drip with the pain of disappointment. My heart went out to this person; I’d been in his shoes before.

All of us have known disappointment from people, some who we love dearly and others we’re barely acquainted with. But whatever the relationship, when they let us down we felt the sting of disappointment.

Considering the fact there’s not a perfect human being on this planet, it’s important for us to remember that given the opportunity to know someone long enough, at some point they will do something that could be disappointing. They’re imperfect! And so are we; we’ve had our moments of disappointing others.

Fortunately, disappointments can be fixed.

You’ve likely seen some of the incredible images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. From the far reaches of space, we’re able to get a view of some of God’s breathtaking creations with the photos taken by this telescope. But do you remember in the beginning of the Hubble project, this telepscope wasn’t the amazing machine it is today?

After lots of excitement, the telescope was launched several years ago and the first images we received back were blurry. It was discovered there was a flaw in the mirror.

It was a terrible disappointment!

The problem with the mirror was later corrected, but at the time there was a joke making the rounds that said the only thing NASA learned from the Hubble Telescope was to never name a project something that rhymed with “trouble.” It was a huge embarrassment then, but not anymore. Today, our capacity to see the beauty of God’s creation in a unique and awe-inspiring way is broadened by the images retrieved from this telescope, which is a great success.

Human disappointments can be fixed as well.

Paul and Barnabas had a falling out and went their separate ways over a disagreement regarding the disappointing behavior of Mark when they had given him an opportunity to travel with them …

“After some time Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.’ Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus,” Acts 15:36-40.

Paul had been so disappointed with Mark’s desertion that he wasn’t willing to work with him again … at least, not at that time. But things changed. That which led to disappointing behavior in Mark — the guy who wrote the Gospel according to Mark — was later corrected.

“Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry,” 2 Timothy 4:11.

We will all experience disappointment from others, but that can be fixed, and they can become helpful to us. We will all disappoint others, but that can be fixed, and we can become a blessing to others.

Has someone disappointed you? Are you allowing them the opportunity to fix their error and have a second chance? Have you disappointed someone? What are you doing to correct your error so you can be beneficial to others?

This article originally appeared here.

Dr. James Scott, Jr., is a minister, former church planter, Christian clinical therapist, certified Personal Trainer, and author. He currently serves as Founder and President of Scott Free Clinic, an international parachurch ministry. Follow him at ScottFreeClinic.org.

Lasting Love On Mother’s Day

by Jim Parisi on May 15, 2003

A Mother’s Day Comment by Chuck Swindoll:

I remember a Mother’s Day card I saw that was really cute. It was a great big card written in a little child’s printing—little first-grade printing. On the front was a little boy with untied sneakers. He had a wagon, and toys were everywhere. He had a little cut on his face and there were smudges all over this card. It read, “Mom, I remember that little prayer you used to say for me every day,” Inside was the prayer: “God help you if you ever do that again.”

What greater Love then the love of a mother?

Mother’s day is the day we honor mothers here in the United States.

What greater Love between two Humans then the love between a mother and her child.

We are going to look in to the power of Love for one another.

1 Corinthians 13:1–13, especially verse 1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

You’re never too old for your mother to correct you.

Introduction: According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Police Chief Phil Keith was in the middle of a city council meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, when his pager beeped. Startled to see that the call was from his mother, he rushed to the press table and phoned her. “Phil Keith, are you chewing gum?” demanded his mom, who had been watching on cable TV. “Yes, ma’am.” “Well, it looks awful. Spit it out.” Keith dutifully removed the gum and went back to his meeting.

There’s no one like mothers! The words “mother” and “love” go together like left and right hands, and on this Mother’s Day of 2003,

There’s no better passage to study than the “Love Chapter” of the Bible which describes the agape love of God which is necessary for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—and for all the rest of us.

1. The Place of Love (vv. 1–3). Love is superior to eloquent words (v. 1). Love is the vital principle, and without it all other endowments, including excellence in communication, is vain. Love is superior to wisdom

(v. 2). If a person could unlock the mysteries of the entire universe and call forth faith to remove mountains, he would be zero without love.

Love is superior to work (v. 3). Albert Barnes notes, “If there is not true piety, there can be no benefit in this to my soul. It will not save me. If I have not true love to God, I must perish, after all. Love therefore, is more valuable and precious than all these endowments. Nothing can supply its place; naught can be connected with salvation without it.”

2. The Portrait of Love (vv. 4–7). Love is patient (v. 4).

It bears injustice without anger or despair.

Love may be practiced (v. 4). It is mild under all irritations and ill usage.

Love produces good manners and courtesy at all times.

Love is pure (v. 4), not jealous or displeased when others are successful.

Love never embarrasses the owner or recipient.

Love is peaceful (v. 4). It is not rash.

Love takes a back seat and is willing to work behind the scenes.

Love does not brag or boast or sing its own praises. Love is polite (v. 5), doing nothing to cause shame.

Love prefers others (v. 5). There is no selfishness in the true love. It seeks the good of others.

Love is not easily provoked (v. 5). When love holds the reins of the soul, there is little danger of provocation to anger and spiteful action that leads to sin.

Love is preclusive (v. 5). It does not condemn on suspicion or without evidence, nor is it malicious nor disposed to find fault.

Love exhibits propriety (v. 6). It does not sympathize with evil, nor does it delight in anything that does not conform to the standard of right.

Love takes pleasure in truth (v. 6). Love rejoices in the virtues of others, not their vices.

Love is pleasant (v. 7). Love maintains a disposition that refuses to make public or to avenge the faults of others.

Love is not suspicious. It trusts others. Love brightens all things, bears all things and braves all things.

3. The Permanence of Love (vv. 8–13). Love’s permanency is suggested by the phrase “love never fails” (v. 8).

Love will always abide, may always be exercised, and can be adapted to all circumstances in which we may be placed.

Love’s pre-eminence is suggested by the phrase “but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).

Love is the greatest of all gifts, for love makes the rest of the gifts graceful. Love is the one needful thing—our priority.

We lose our goods or even our good names, but if we truly retain love, we have exchanged the temporary for the eternal.

For when the Bible has said all it will say about God, it is contained in the one statement: “God is love.”

Conclusion: There’s an old story that tells of some young pastors who paid a visit to one of the great ministers of the past generation.

They found him preparing to go to a meeting where a strong debate was expected.

He was reading the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians and praying that its teaching might guide his conduct.

The aged minister felt the need of the restraining hand of divine grace and the calming power of love, lest he should be rash in his speech.

This is the kind of love that lasts.

May God give us loving moms, loving dads, and may He give all of us loving hearts like that.

Double the Dose

There once was a wise old physician, who said to a young doctor,

“I’ve been practicing medicine for a long time. I’ve prescribed many things.

But in the long run, I’ve learned that the best medicine is love.”

“What if it doesn’t work?” asked the young doctor.

Then “Double the dose,” he said.

Lord please give us double dose of your love

Amen……..

Pastoral Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You know that mothering, though a wonderful calling, is a demanding task, filled with anxious moments and wearisome days. We ask You will restore and refresh every mother here today. And we also pray for our mothers these words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: That their love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that they may approve the things that are excellent, that they may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Amen……………

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/lasting-love-on-mother-s-day-jim-parisi-sermon-on-women-58206


VIDEO Mothers Are Special

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II May 4, 2021

Mothers and Grandmothers are some the most important people in our lives. They help share our character and beliefs. Sometimes, because of circumstances, the mother’s role is fulfilled by a Grandmother or a step-mother. Godly mothers with Godly fathers provide the best foundation for children in their formative years and as they grow up.

Mothers have a special position appointed by God.

She teaches, ministers, loves, and nurtures the next generation of citizens.  And she challenges and cajoles her children to do their best and be the best.

But few people take notice.  There will be no news stories proclaiming the virtues of a child being taught what it means to be loved, that an infant was hugged securely, or that the wonders of the classics were introduced to a young mind.  No one seems to care that a house was made into a home, or that a mere table with food was transformed into a place of fun.

It isn’t too late to restore the fine art of motherhood to its time-honored position in our society.  In spite of the current cultural hostility, lack of support from many husbands, and incredible pressure inside and outside the home, a real mom will continue to affirm the importance of motherhood. (1)

There are children who test the patience of even the strongest believers. Sometimes tough love is needed. You might consider this another prodigal son.

It is said that a young man became very profligate. He almost broke the hearts of his parents. The mother was actually about to die from the strain. Finally, one day he acted so shamefully that his father said to him, “We have done everything in our power for you. You have disgraced the family and are killing your mother. All that we do for you is in vain. I am sorry, but I must ask you to leave our home and never return.” The young man left.

The months and years went by. Finally the boy became so miserable and homesick it seemed he could not stand it. So he wrote his mother this letter: “Dear Mother: I am ashamed of my fearful conduct in the home. I can hardly stand to think I must never see you again. However, I do not know whether or not Father and you can forgive me. But I will be on train No. 2 that passes your home at 10:00 a.m. [Then he gave the day.] Now if you can forgive me and will take me back, I want you to hang a sheet out on the clothesline. I shall look as the train passes and, if I see the sheet, I will know that you will forgive me, and I will get off at the next station, just below the house, and come home.”

Well, what do you think she did? Not only did she hang out one sheet, but every sheet, towel, pillowcase and everything else white that she had. The clothesline, fence, and rosebushes were covered with sheets, towels, etc. Of course he came home, and, oh, such a welcome!

It was forgiveness in abundance. (2)

We can find our schedule is really full and forget the really important things in life. The following is an example.

A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away.

As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing.

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother.

But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars.”

The man smiled and said, “Come on in with me. I’ll buy you a rose.”

He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother’s flowers.

As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home.

She said, “Yes, please! You can take me to my mother.”

She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother’s house. (3)

Mothers are ready for us. The Bible has many things to say about Mothers including the following.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”… (Proverbs 31:25-30)  Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

For those who were not Blessed with Godly parents or who otherwise endured rough times, do not despair there is healing available.  A rough upbringing can produce fear, anxiety, paranoia, PTSD or worse outcomes. A rough can be used as an excuse or can be overcome, that is a personal choice. Those who suffer, recover, and heal can help others who suffer.

Commemorations to honor mothers and motherhood have been happening for centuries and can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who paid homage to their mother goddesses. Today, tributes to mothers occur all around the world at different times of the year, but the American version of Mother’s Day was started in May of 1908 by a woman named Anna Jarvis.

Mom needs a hug today.

References

(1)  Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer’s book, Children At Risk

(2) William Moses Tidwell, “Pointed Illustrations.”

(3) https://www.theholidayspot.com/mothersday/stories/a_short_story.htm

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2021/05/06/mothers-are-like-that-ya-they-are-2/