Monday, September 15, 2014

GRACE EXTENDED


I am so excited to continue our marriage conversation.  The adventure called marriage was all God's idea and when it is done His way, it is a beautiful and creative way to translate [to illustrate] the love of Jesus to a broken, hurting, searching world.

If you are just now joining us, welcome!  Here are our previous stops... 

One of the many things that I have wrestled with the last several years is this idea that my children are my others.

"Do for others what you would want them to do for you."
{Matthew 7:12}

I always thought of others as, well, others.
Neighbors.  Friends.  Co-workers.
Anyone outside my home.

Somehow, this topic came up in our marriage counseling.  We were discussing this idea of others in regards to our children and I mentioned the fact that viewing my children this way challenges me to look at their heart and be quick to allow them a do-over.  And our counselor, doing what he does best, posed the question, "How does this play out in your marriage?"

If my spouse is my other…
…do I love him as I love myself? {Matthew 22:39}
…do I give him more honor than I give myself? {Romans 12:10}
…do I forgivingly restore him? {Galatians 6:1}
…do I pursue peace in a gentle, humble, patient and accepting way? {Ephesians 4:1-3}

Our others are to be loved because they are "presented to us as the object on and by which we are to show the reality of our love to God." [Pulpit Commentary]

The Bible has a lot to say about our relationship with others.  From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God gives us instructions and examples of the way were are to do life with our others, which became a struggle the moment sin entered this world.

Stop #4– DO-OVER: Grace Extended

Do-over. Grace.
Grace means kindness and favor.
It implies reaching, inclining, extension/leaning toward.

What a beautiful word picture.
[Holy and righteous] God reaching for and leaning toward [sinful and selfish] us for the purpose of pouring out His kindness and favor and freely giving Himself away to us.

Grace is never about us.  Grace is never something we deserve.
Grace speaks to the character of the person who is doing the reaching, the leaning, the extending.  If I received the undeserved grace extended to me by a loving God, then should jump at the chance to love others the way God loved me by being the one who gets to reach out and offer grace.  To give another chance.  To allow a do-over.
"My children, our love should not be only words and talk.
No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do."
{1 John 3:18}

God is so gracious to go before us and model how to love and how to forgivingly restore someone by offering a do-over.  He even gave us several examples of do-over's in the Bible.  My favorite picture of grace happens around the warmth of an open fire.  There is only mention of two charcoal fires in all of the Bible and both surround the do-over we are going to look at today.

In John 13, Jesus and His boys, the disciples, are eating supper.  Jesus is trying to prepare them for His death, which He knows will be soon, but they are having a lot of trouble understanding Him.  When Jesus is asked where He is going, He answered, “you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”  Peter gets frustrated and finally asks, “Lord, why cant I follow you now? I am ready to die for you!

Jesus answered, “Will you really give your life for me?
The truth is, before the rooster crows,
you will say three times that you don’t know me.”
{John 13:37}

If we skip ahead a few chapters, we find Jesus and the boys entering a garden to pray. They were met by a group of soldiers and officers with lanterns, torches and weapons. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, bound, and taken into the court of the High Priest.

Peter and another disciple followed Jesus to the courtyard.  If you and I stick close to Peter, we see him walk past a servant-girl at the gate who says to him, Arent you one of this mans disciples?  Peter denied it.  He made his way over to the charcoal fire that the servants and guards had built to warm themselves.  While he was standing with them, he was asked again, Arent you one of the followers of that man?  Peter denied it a second time.  One of the servants spoke up and said, I think I saw you with him in the garden!  Peter screams for the third and last time NO, I WAS NOT WITH HIM!

[insert rooster crow]

What do you think Peter felt in that instance?
Peter.  Standing around a charcoal fire on a cold night confused and scared.
People all around are talking, whispering, yelling.
Jesus is being questioned.  Jesus is being hit.

Im sure his mind was racing, trying to make sense of what is happening.

The smell of smoke invades Peter's senses.  It's in the air, in his clothes, on his skin, and in his hair.  But the moment he hears the rooster crow, I imagine his heart skipping a beat, his ears going deaf to the sounds around him, his eyes looking up and making eye contact with Jesus.

And suddenly, Jesus' words come flooding back, “will you really give your life for me, [Peter]? The truth is, before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you dont know me.”

Did you know that Jesus changed Peter's name?
His new name gave him a new purpose.  It allowed Simon to see himself the way Jesus saw him.  He was no longer Simon, but instead Peter, which means rock.

"And I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.
This is the rock on which I will build my church."
{Matthew 16:18}

As the rooster crows and the sun begins to rise, the smoke of the charcoal fire falls on Peter like a blanket of fear, guilt and shame.  Luke tells us that Peter ran out of the courtyard weeping uncontrollably.  In that moment, Peter wasn't the unmovable rock he thought he was and it rocked him to the core.

As the day went on, Jesus is beaten beyond recognition and crucified on a cross.  He is dead and buried before sunset.  Peter never got to say sorry.  Never got to say goodbye.

So much happens from the time Jesus was buried to the only other mention of a charcoal fire, which is where our journey is taking us.  Everything in me wants to keep going.  To fill in all the blanks -- the details of the discovery of the empty tomb, the resurrection of Jesus, the multiple appearances to His boys along with several others, not to mention the little details John includes than make me laugh and reminds me that these aren't characters, but people.  Men and women just like you and me.  But, a charcoal fire has been built on the shore of the Sea of Galilee so we need to go.  We are suppose to be sticking close to Peter and he's on his fishing boat about 112 miles from here.

In the last chapter of John, we find seven of the disciples doing some night fishing.  They were out all night and caught nothing.  Jesus is standing on the shore and says to them, "do you have any fish?"  The boys didn't know it was Jesus.  After they yelled back "no", Jesus said to them, "cast the net on the right side of the boat..."

"The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'  When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his coat and threw himself into the sea."
{John 21:7}

Peter hears John say the man on the shore is Jesus and can not get to him quick enough. If you know anything about Peter, you know this is not the first time he jumped ship to get to Jesus.

After the boat makes it to land and Peter helps them haul the net full of fish ashore.  Jesus invites them to breakfast and they all make their way to the charcoal fire that was already in place.  Can you hear that?  If I'm not mistaken, that is the sound of Peter's heart pounding out of his chest.  This feels uncomfortably familiar.  As he sits down, the warmth of the fire feels suffocating.  The distinct smell the charcoal fire triggers so many unresolved, unsettled emotions in Peter's heart.

When they finished breakfast, the conversation quieted.
Jesus addressed Peter saying, "Simon, son of John,.."

Simon. He called him Simon.
That is Peter's old name.  His old identity.
Jesus has Peter's full attention.

"...do you love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," Peter replies, "you know I love you!"
Jesus repeated the question, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
"Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you!"
For the third time, Jesus asks Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
A very hurt, deeply grieved Peter replied, "Lord, you know everything. You know I love you."

Peter was certain he was ready to die for Jesus, but instead he denied knowing Him, not once, not twice, but three times in one night.  Jesus saw his hurt and pain and gave him a do-over.  The smell of a charcoal fire no longer triggered guilt and shame, but instead served as a beautiful reminder of the redemptive love of Jesus.  The three denials no longer defined his lack of commitment to Jesus because the opportunity to declare his love and affection for Jesus reminded him of the solid, stable rock that Jesus knew he would be.

Do-over.  Grace.
Grace was never about Peter.
Grace wasn't something he deserved.
The unsolicited gift of grace spoke to the character of Jesus. 

Jesus.  The cross.
The ultimate do-over.
The ultimate redo.
The ultimate act of love, kindness and grace.

So, I'll ask the same question our marriage counselor asked us,
"How does this play out in your marriage?"

Has there ever been a time in your marriage that you said or did something you immediately wish you could take back?  Yeah, me too.  Has there ever been a time in your marriage when you were the one left hurt and disappointed?  Yeah, me too.

When you have been hurt [offended, wronged] by your spouse, you have the power to free them up to be all God intended them to be by being generous with forgiveness and grace.  By being quick to offer a do-over in order to keep your one-flesh relationship healthy and intact.  By caring more about the condition of their heart than your feelings.  By using them as a tangible way to show the reality of your love for God.

The reality is that we are going to mess up… a lot.
Give your spouse permission to be as imperfect as you know you are.

Choose love.
Extend grace.
Offer a do-over.


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