Hope For Change

Steve Arterburn

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.

Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.

God’s Word

Steve Arterburn

Not only do you search God’s Word, but it searches you.  Not only do we seek to understand God’s Word, but we need to stand under its authority.

As you read the Bible, you may be tempted to draw back from it soul-searching power.  You may argue with its teaching, resent its discipline, or question its assertions.  But these reactions simply alert you to the fact that God is searching you heart.  At times like these, spiritual renewal comes as you stop and examine not only God’s Word but also your response to it.  

Why are you feeling upset when you’re challenged?  Why is the Bible affecting you in a particular way?  What specific attitudes or behaviors is it addressing?  How does the teaching of God’s Word differ from your way of living?  Questions like these can move you beyond impulsive reactions to spiritually productive reflection.  The psalmist wrote, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life’ (Psalm 139:23-24). That’s a pretty brave prayer, isn’t it?

When you surrender your resistance, you find the grace of Jesus Christ sustaining you.  The very Word that exposes your sin also reveals the remedy for that sin’Jesus, your great High Priest.  Through him you find mercy that removes your sin and power that works through your weakness.