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Personal Best

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After Jesus had ascertained Peter’s degree of love for Him, He told Peter of the future for him.  That while he went wherever he chose when he was young, when he was old he would be led to a place where he did not want to go.

The commentary has been that the Lord told Peter that this was the way he would die.  There is no commentary as to the reason why.  Why did the Lord single out Peter to tell him the way he would die to glorify the Lord?  And when Peter asked about John, Jesus’ reply can be best summed up using 21st century colloquialism:  “None of your business.”

We know from tradition that Peter was crucified upside down, apparently telling his executioners that he did not deserve to be crucified in the same way as his Lord.  The question remains why?

With the availability of the Holy Spirit’s Testimony, we now know why.  Peter was the one who invited the others to go fishing in Galilee when the Lord had specifically told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come.  Peter’s disobedience and his incitement of the others to disobedience led to the delay of the advent of the Holy Spirit, so that He could not come until Pentecost Day.  The consequence of that delay can be measured by the current state of the powerless religion that passes itself off as the Church of Jesus Christ.

The delay of the arrival of the Holy Spirit also caused a second mistake to be made.  In the absence of the Holy Spirit, Peter then recommended that a replacement for Judas be selected, but the replacement was elected using an Old Testament technique – the casting of the lot – rather than that which Jesus wanted His disciples to use when seeking the Lord’s decisions.  And that is to ask the Holy Spirit who would make known to them what belongs to Jesus, including His will.

As we all know, two wrongs do not make a right.  Well that is Peter.  Not that we judge or condemn him, certainly not, but his mistakes are written in the Bible that we may learn from them and avoid them.  And if we can’t avoid them, repent of them.  So what should you do?

As usual, Jesus gives us the answer.  In His reply to Peter in John 21:22, He said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow Me.” The answer to all the mistakes made by our forefathers, from the moment they refused to believe the messages of the women to the acceptance of James the Younger’s recommendations, remains the same – “You must follow Me,” said Jesus.  Following Jesus is not a competitive race… for Jesus also said, “What is that to you?” [John 21.22] As much as we are to help each other follow Jesus, it is never about who is following Jesus more closely.  A group of disciples who are concerned about who is following Jesus more closely will soon degenerate into a group of grown men fighting and arguing as to who is the greatest, and is that not the cause of more schisms in church than any other?  And if you throw in the women, you have a real cat fight.  So how can it be done with the love and harmony we all speak of and desire, but yet seem to elude us?

There is an old Chinese saying, “There is always a higher mountain.”  Look at Mount Everest, the highest mountain you can see, but did you know there are mountains under the sea that you cannot see that are higher than Mount Everest?  If you seek to be the closest to Jesus, there will always be someone who may be closer whom you do not know.  If you seek to be the one who loves Him the most, there is always one who loves Him more whom you do not know.

A wise doctor once told me this, “Never try to be the best doctor in town; that is foolishness and vanity.  Just be the best doctor your patients know.”  So likewise for each and every one of us; we need not try to be the best or the closest to Jesus, but rather we only need to do our personal best for Him, whatever that may be.  For it is God who blesses with different measures of His gifts, but it is up to us to make the most of what we have been given.

So, even if you feel you have made more and worse mistakes than Peter, do not condemn yourself, for the Lord’s words to Peter was the answer to help him overcome himself, to stay focussed on following Jesus.  When we each are focussed on following Jesus to the best of our personal ability; that is when we are in the best position to help one another follow Jesus likewise.  For then you will be an inspiration to the other and not a correction or discouragement, and certainly not a source of grief to the Holy Spirit.  “ not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” [Ephesians 4.30] admonished Paul in one of his letters.  Nothing grieves the Holy Spirit more than when we choose not to listen to Jesus and worse still, to not follow Him.

Sometimes you may not be in the mood to listen to Him, but just keep following because, by and by, you will be willing to listen.  And when He does speak, the grace and truth that flows from Him will renew you.  Whenever Jesus speaks it is always grace followed by truth.  It was His grace that gave Peter the opportunity to change his reply, and His truth that asked Peter according to the level of Peter’s love.  It was again His grace that allowed Jesus to tell Peter of the way he would die as a consequence of his actions, and His truth that then gave Peter the means to overcome the fear and self condemnation that might follow.  The apostle may have made the mistakes that gave rise to the Prostitute that affects us all, but by the grace of Jesus, he is coming back as one who was martyred to reign with Him for the Millennium.

That is the Lord we serve and can look forward to… who would give an apostle whose mistakes led to the Prostitute being unleashed, the honour of returning with Him.

In the days of distress that are increasing, it will be your personal walk with the Lord that will be the light that guides the people of God out of the Prostitute so that they do not share in her plagues and suffering.  It will not be our pointing of the finger and our asking of the Lord, “What about him?” that will guide them out, but our fervent, unceasing followship – not fellowship of Jesus Christ – that will allow the miracle of the Lord’s grace and truth to set free those still under bondage, even ourselves.  The grace to realise that not all will live to see Him arrive, for many will be taken to Heaven, and the truth that as those who agape Him, you will live the truth of His words that you might bear witness to all of them in your life until He arrives.

A century and a half or more ago, a lone woman was raised to minister to the church that had ignored the Holy Spirit.  Her message then was, “Jesus is coming soon.”  Now, as the elect of the Holy Spirit, your message is, “Jesus is coming,” and you will see that happen if only you follow Him to the personal best of your little ability.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®,
NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission of Zondervan.  All rights reserved worldwide.


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