Monday, June 15, 2015

5 Choices That Change Us!

I am a fan of transformation stories.  I like the articles that show houses that were dumps, renovated, and remade into beautiful homes, or outdated homes, gutted and made new!

Even better are the stories about people.  Have you heard of Jared?  The fellow who lost 245 pounds by eating at Subway twice a day and walking a lot (and by the way kept it off now for 17 years) who became the spokesperson for Subway and is reportedly worth about 15million made mostly from his commercials he did for Subway.  Subway attributes 20-50% of its growth to Jared.

Or Arthur Boorman the disabled  veteran who the doctors told would never walk again unassisted, he believed them, consequently his weight ballooned to 247 lbs. but at age 47, through  disciplined exercise lost the weight and the canes and became a you tube sensation with almost 12 million views of his transformation.

But the transformation stories I like best, are the spiritual ones.
The Drug dealer transformed into a faithful father and usher in the church.
The Convicted felon transformed by Jesus into singer and preacher.
The Marriage broken by adultery, healed by Jesus.

So the man we see this morning is transformed before our eyes as we read the gospel.
Peter, the fisherman, not educated, not polished, not from a royal background, the fighter, the curser, the ambitious businessman, often swift to speak and first to fail.
On a construction site, the building project is often broken into stages.
Let’s see Peter’s life as a project and consider the stages, and the choice he must make at each stage.


Choice: Believe? Or Belittle?
This is where we all start.  Andrew, Simon’s Peter’s brother had been a follower of John the Baptist, so he was there when John announced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Lamb of God, and Andrew began to follow Jesus.
When you start following Jesus, one of the first things you do is begin inviting others to come see and hear this one that has so stirred and changed your heart.
But when Andrew tells Peter, Peter has a choice to make.  Do I believe Andrew about this one he says is the Christ, the Messiah, God in the flesh? Or do I belittle my brother for falling for such a scheme as this.
This is the same choice we make today. 
Someone tells you about Jesus.  Do you believe?  Do you open your heart to the possibility that maybe He is the one that has the answers.  Maybe He is the one that can forgive my sin and give me a new start!
Or do you belittle?  Are you kidding me?  Religious fanatics, too dumb to understand science, too close minded to see how religion and Christianity oppress people….
That is belittling…and that will never get you into the presence of God!


Joh 1:42  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Peter is standing there with his brother next to him and suddenly Jesus speaks to him.  Thou are Simon, son of Jona…Thou shalt be called Cephas, a stone.
How does this man know my name?
How does he know about my now, and my future?

Choice: Receive or Resist?

Peter had to make a choice.  Do I resist what this man is saying to me.  Just explain away the fact that he is speaking to me about me, and that He seems to know me better than I know myself?
Or do I receive it?  Dare to believe that I have a future, beyond a fishing business, beyond the Sea of Galilee, to believe that I can actually be what God intends for me??!!
God speaks today and shows us our now…
When Jesus spoke to Peter, the names revealed a lot about him.  People used name in a much more significant way then than we do now.
What if we were known by our weakness?  Larry the luster, Criticizing Chris, or Angry Ann, here comes Fornicating Frank!  Or Dave the drunk, or Slutty Suzy…
We get indignant and sometimes pretend that when Jesus speaks to us about us that He is off.  But we KNOW He is telling us the truth. 
***Sister came to me last week and said the man she was living with was not really her husband and she wanted to get married but there were legal difficulties….she called back later in the week and said they got a lawyer to get the legal difficulties fixed and would I conduct their marriage ceremony!!
Peter is at stage 2, he is open to hearing what Jesus has to say and he is receiving the teaching.  There are many at this level.  They come to church, listen to the preaching, are ready to learn, that is good, but don’t stop now!

Stage 3: Using what you have learned

Choice: Take Action or Take Up Acting

Peter had learned a lot.  He had seen many miracles. He had participated in some of them, but he wanted to have an individual one.  When He sees Jesus walking on the sea in the middle of the storm, something stirs within him that says it is time to take action.  He asks Jesus, if it is really you, ask me to come to you on the water….Jesus says “Come!” and Peter does.
He takes action with the knowledge that he had
He takes action inspired by the miracles he has seen
He takes action motivated by a desire to be with Jesus
I know that most of you know, that Peter starts to sink in the water and Jesus has to rescue him, but have you ever considered what the other disciples were doing in the boat?
Peter had taken action, they had taken up acting!
They acted as if they didn’t really hear Jesus!
They acted as if learning about miracles and seeing them was what the end result was supposed to be, not doing them!
They acted as if they didn’t believe Jesus could do these works THROUGH THEM!

What will you do today after this service?  Will you take action?  Will you pour out the booze, get the marriage license, flush the drugs down the toilet, and begin today by setting a goal of inviting 5 people a day to church?
Or will you pretend, take up acting, as if you didn’t really hear this challenge, and after all, attending church is enough….isn’t it?

Stage 4 Recovering after failure

Choice: Get up Or Give up?

Peter had a lot of failures.  He spoke when he should have listened.  He was slow to believe, gave in to fear in the hour of need, cursed out Jesus, denied the Lord when He needed him the most.  I think he has probably topped your failure…
Peter had a choice, when he started to sink on the water….He cried out Lord help me!
When He denied him by the fireside, he cried, wept bitterly, and repented.
When he returned to his secular business instead of pursuing the calling that God gave him.
Every time, he said I will rise!  I will get up!  I won’t stay down!

(Proverbs 24:16)  For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

The truth is that we will all fail.  The choice is what will you do when you fail?  Get up or Give up?
Wallow around in self-pity and blame others for your sin, get on social media and tell half a story to make yourself look like the victim.
Gossip to others and harbor bitter thoughts about the leadership who had the job of calling you to account for your sin?
Get bitter and quit the church and forever grumble about how unfair things were without ever revealing the entire truth of the matter?
You can’t get up carrying excuses for your sin! 
You can’t get up telling everyone else it really wasn’t your fault!
You can’t get up complaining about your husband fulfilling his role in the family while you are shirking your duties.

Stage 5: Becoming empowered by the Holy Spirit

Choice: Passive or Powerful?

After everything that Peter did, and remember he had to face the humbling experience of going back around the other disciples when he had failed:
·        His clothes wet from sinking after taking his eyes off the Lord
·        They knew he had cursed out the Lord
·        They were there when he was acting as a tool of the devil “Get thee behind me satan, thou savorest the things that be of man and not the things that be of God!”

His failures were personal but they were not private!

Look!  He got up and went back to church!
And wasn’t he glad he did!
Jesus appears, and tells them to wait for the promise of the Father….So they pray…and they pray…and they pray again…and after seven days of praying the Holy Ghost is poured out and Peter gets filled with the power of God!

What would have happened if he had just given up?
What would have happened if he had just gotten bitter?
Stayed sullen?  Separated himself and sulked in the shadows?

He would have missed the power of God!

You can sit here this morning and hear this message and be passive in your pew, or you can come today and say I need the baptism of the Holy Ghost, I need that power in my life and come to the altar today to receive!