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.

Refusing To Lie

Steve Arterburn

If you truly desire to be the person God created you to be, then you must learn to be truthful and turn away from lying.  Lying can easily become a way of life.  You lie to your kids to keep them from nagging.  You lie to your boss to make yourself look good. You can even lie to yourself.  

Are you trying to cover up your problems and pretend they don’t exist’including your problem with lying?  Like it or not, you must face reality.  When you do, you will see the pain caused by your lies.  You’ll see how they’ve hurt you and your loved ones.

Think about these verses from First Peter and Colossians:  ‘If you want a happy life and good days keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies’ (3:10).  ‘Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.  In its place you have clothed yourself with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you’ (3:9-10).

If lying is second nature to you, it may be difficult for you to change, but you must!  You must learn to guard your lips and your thoughts from lies, which will hurt you as well as others.  Then you can press on in your spiritual growth to be the person God created you to be.

Forgiving Ourselves

Steve Arterburn

For most of the wrongs you’ve done, you’re probably grateful and eager to accept God’s forgiveness. But sometimes we’re so shocked or ashamed or heartbroken over what we’ve done that we find it hard to believe that God could really forgive us. Yet God does forgive and he desires to restore you. He wants to redirect the course of your life for his service. But this can’t begin until you receive God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.

Peter had once sworn his love for Jesus. He pledged even to die with Jesus if necessary. Yet that same night after Jesus was arrested, Peter sheepishly denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus wasn’t surprised; he had already told Peter that Peter would deny knowing him three times. Jesus was ready to forgive Peter before he even betrayed Jesus. But Peter had a hard time forgiving himself.

After Jesus rose from the dead he asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Peter had denied him three times and so Jesus gave him the chance to reaffirm his love three times. Jesus reached out to Peter.

When you’re disheartened by the things you’ve done, it can be difficult to receive God’s forgiveness. But God reaches out to us. Once you confess your sins, you need to let go of them. Find encouragement through the story of Peter. Once he accepted forgiveness, God was able to build him up and use him for His great purposes.