Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest conquerors in the history of our world. He came to dominate the people of many nations. He possessed power, fame, and wealth. At one point, he even considered himself to be a god. But, like so many others, he lacked the one thing he needed the most: peace. His insecurities wouldn’t allow him to be at peace with himself. So how could he be at peace with others? He was a man who was unhappy with himself and hostile toward the people around him. Can you relate?
Nubuchadnezzar never truly discovered the peace that could’ve been found had he surrendered his life to God. He did everything he could to maintain his power over others. Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? When they walked out of the fiery furnace unscathed, Nebuchadnezzar realized that he’d been thwarted by God. He also saw that the three who surrendered their lives to God had far greater power at their disposal than even he had. Despite his recognition of God’s power, however, the king’s pride continued to get the best of him.
Nebuchadnezzar continued to brag about his greatness and claimed that he alone was responsible for the great city of Babylon. He refused to recognize that all power’even his power’was granted by God. Subsequently he never understood the blessing of peace that comes with surrendering to God. Do you know this blessing of peace?
All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life. And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will. At times, the challenge may seem too hard. Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.
Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith? Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis. Was Jesus really the Messiah? Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship? Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions? Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?
The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians. In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.
What old habits are haunting you? Addiction? Lust? Anger? Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways. From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life. But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.
Simon the fisherman was reckless, vacillating, and often thoughtless. He friends could probably think of some apt nicknames for him, but I doubt any of them came close to what Jesus called him: Peter, which means ‘Rock.’ What greater evidence could there be that Jesus accepted Simon as he was but also had a vision for the man he’d become? And what an amazing transformation took place in that burly fisherman!
Most men can readily identify with Simon Peter. His intentions were usually good, but he was impetuous in speech and impulsive in action. When Jesus revealed that his divine mission would involve a painful death, Peter rashly told Jesus to stop talking that way. At the last supper he brazenly objected to Jesus washing his feet. When Jesus was arrested he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And we all know how he denied knowing Jesus three times.
Later in Simon Peter’s life, however, we see what Jesus saw when he called him ‘Rock.’ He was used by God to perform miracles, he preached publicly about Jesus despite opposition, and exhibited strong leadership in the early church.
In Simon Peter’s life we see hope for our spiritual renewal and transformation. He wasn’t perfect, but he grew in his life in Christ and God used him to have a profound effect on the world.
Jesus has the power to transform even the most unlikely people. Keep this in mind for yourself and for others.