We may have been good; we may have been bad; ultimately, we are redeemed!
This week may we take time to focus on stepping into who we have been called to be. For some of us, we may already feel we are there and for others, we feel that this is a journey we are still on. I want us to look at what it means to step into who God has called us to be. I know it is a topic I have talked about before, but I think it is important that we know who we have been called to be and the identity we have in the Lord. I pray we will all know, we are being called differently but with the same purpose. The text for this message is John 21v15-25 in which Jesus reinstates Peter. Peter was a man who could have ultimately let his denial finish his ministry. However, Jesus covered all his denial with love and mercy, speaking a calling over Peter’s life which he fulfilled. I hope that we can all be encouraged that our mistakes do not lead to us losing who we are. For we are not a people condemned but we are people who are set free. May we embrace that today, knowing that we are all called to serve in many different ways but all as one body.
In embracing who we have been called to be, we need to shake off the shackles of the past. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3v17-18).
Many of us have condemned ourselves and we have trapped ourselves in a prison of our past. That is a truth for anyone of any age, when we hold onto a mistake/s of the past and make it a barrier on why we cannot move forward, we then become trapped. From my own experience, I fall victim to this a lot. When I feel called to do something, I come with a list of reasons why I cannot because of the mistakes I have made in the past. This was an issue that was addressed when I first went to do ministry in Amsterdam. I had to stop being my own worst enemy and letting the enemy thrive over my life. I was given this verse from Lamentations, Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness., (Lamentations 3v22-23). God is not a God of condemnation. When the enemy tries to belittle us with the mistakes of the past. May we speak the promises of God over our lives. Our mistakes do not condemn us, we are people who have been redeemed and set free.
Jesus setting Peter free of his denial, shows He is not a God of condemnation. For the three denials, Jesus covers them with the question “Do you love me?” Peter’s reply from the beginning is “Yes Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Each confirmation of his love led to the confirmation of Peter’s calling. “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep”. In the heat of the moment, the intensity of fear, Peter had denied Jesus.
The wonderful thing about this situation was Jesus knew it was going to happen and it was going to knock Peter. But in Luke’s gospel, we see these beautiful words spoken over Peter. Simon [Peter], Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail you. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22v31-32)
These were not words of condemnation but of hope and freedom. That Peter would go through this trial, but Peter would ultimately come out victorious.
His faith and his love for Jesus could not be easily shaken. Peter knew he loved the Lord and his heart was willing to serve him. Who knows our hearts best? God. If Peter had lived in his denial, then he would have never been able to do the ministry he had been called to.
It is the same for all of us if we allow our mistakes to keep us in this prison of condemnation; we will never be able to serve the kingdom as we were intended to. When condemnation seems to be engulfing us may we speak the promises of God over our lives. Knowing that his mercies are new every morning, great is his faithfulness.
In embracing who we are we need to stop comparing, for comparison will only kill your calling. We see Jesus address this issue with Peter regarding the beloved disciple.
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until return, what is that to you? You must follow me. (John 21v21-22)
YOU MUST FOLLOW ME – Each of us must have our own journey with the Lord.
We have all been called differently but with the same purpose, to bring in the kingdom. We are all different parts of the same body. But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12v18-19). To embrace who we are we need to stop comparing ourselves. We need to stop looking at what others are doing and believing their lot is better. God uses each and every one of us. For God does not show favouritism. (Romans 12v11). Comparison will only destroy us.
Embracing our calling means coming out of our comfort zone. In Acts 2 we see Peter addressing the crowd; standing for what he believes in and stepping into his calling. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number daily. (Acts 2v41). We see Peter who is not ignorant of the word of God. We see Peter who is standing to defend his brothers and strengthening them. We see Peter being led by the Holy Spirit and bringing salvation to many. Peter was someone who could not get away from being identified with Jesus and was now standing boldly in his identity; boldly proclaiming the truth of the gospel to many.
Thirdly, embracing our calling means coming out of our comfort zone. The way that we have been chosen to serve may be in the very thing you believe you are weakest in. Using my own example, I know that I am not a confident speaker or writer but that seems to be one of the main outlets which God is using in my life to minister to people. It makes me realise how much I need to lean into the Lord and how I cannot do it in my own strength. Do not let age stop you, resources, or your insecurities. Where God is calling you and how God is calling you, may you have the boldness to step out because you are not doing it alone. You are able to accomplish incredible acts of ministry when you step out in faith, knowing God is guiding your steps.
Lastly, embracing our calling means having a heart humility and laying down our lives for others. Jesus gave Peter a renewed purpose, but it came with a cost.
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. ( John 21v19).
The disciples lay down their lives for the service of others. Laying down their lives so that others could have the gospel and live out the life that Jesus had laid down his life to give.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends. (15v13). We learn who we are when we lay down our lives. Like the disciples, they left everything behind to go and follow Jesus. They walked away from their livelihoods and picked up an uncertain future. They still knew their trade well, for Peter was out fishing just before the Lord talked with him. They were being called to a different way of living, although it used to bring fulfillment, they now had a new way to walk. No longer were they living to simply bring life for themselves but to bring life to others. Which led to them making a sacrifice, living a life of humility and service. Just as Jesus had taught them, they lived following his example. Peter, who was as imperfect as any of us but gave his all to follow Jesus. Jesus who had loved him first and always shown him grace and mercy. May we never fear that a life laid down is a wasted life. For when we choose to give our all, for our Saviour who gave his all; there will be so much life.
Let us embrace who we are. Let us embrace our calling and step out in faith, knowing that the Lord is with us. We are given such an incredible identity in the Lord and we need to stand strong in it because we will meet a lot of resistance. We need to know that a life lived for Jesus comes with persecution, in many forms. We need to count up the cost and see if it is a cost that we are willing to pay. I hope our answer will be yes because I have never known a love like Jesus, who even in my imperfection would lay down his life so I could pick up mine. How blessed and how redeemed we are. We are not our mistakes and our failures. We are children of the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one can ever take that away from you, especially do not allow yourself to live in condemnation that you never live the life you have been called to.
I want to wrap this blog up by saying a huge thank you. My blog page may be small, but I am thankful to have gotten to 100 posts. It started as a little project but has become something I am pleased to do every week. I am thankful for how much I have learned and grown in my faith; my prayer for all of you who read my blogs is that we will grow in our faith together. I want to dedicate my 100th post to my family, (maybe cliché but they deserve a lot of gratitude). Especially my sister Claire who has been my proof-reader from the very beginning. We would sit and laugh when I could not find the right words and she would encourage me even in my doubt to upload my blogs. To my Mum who is normally the first person to comment on my blogs, showing her support every time. To Emma who is the silent reader who will always come and tell me what she liked about my blog. To my Dad, who has enabled me to use my blogs to turn them into messages for my church family. Also, my brother who is always supportive. Finally, to all my readers, thank you so much for all your support. Whether you like the blogs or are just a silent follower. It is a blessing to see how far this blog is reaching and how much God is doing through it. I pray as I continue to write blogs, that the community will grow, and it will become a community that will engage and support one another. I pray it will be a place where everyone can encounter the word of God and be able to grow and flourish in their faith.
May you have a blessed week. Keep the faith and keep supporting those around you. God bless and lots of love, Victoria. xx