Don’t Give Up
Genesis 21:14-21 Matthew 26:69-75
Have you ever been in a situation in which things were going pretty good, and then you did something to screw things up. You find yourself in a jam and don’t know exactly what to do? Has there ever been a time in your life, in which you were sure that you could do something, intended to do it, started doing it, and then found it, it was more difficult than you thought it was going to be? One thing we all have in common is the ability to mess up a good situation, and the ability to think we’re stronger than we really are.
When we look at the word of God, we find that God is real in talking with us about real life situations and how we can screw up the good plans God has for our lives. When we do, we find ourselves wanting to just give up. But the good news of the gospel, is that even when we blow it, God has a plan for our lives. I’m amazed at how God wants to use people who recognize they do not deserve to be used. God just does not seem to give up on us, even though God knows the real deal about us.
When we hear of Abraham and Sarah, we think of these people who walked so close to God that they never made any mistakes. When Abraham was a young man in his seventies or early eighties, God had told him he was going to have a son. After about 10 or 15 years of trying to get pregnant when Abraham was in his eighties, and Sarah in her seventies, they thought they needed to try a new method. Sarah came up with the idea, that she must be at fault, so she told Abraham, I’m going to give you my servant Hagar so that you can have sex with her, she will get pregnant, and then we’ll raise the child as our own. This must be what God intended.
Now Hagar, was about to become the most important of all the women in this clan of people. She is about to be get special top notch treatment with everything going for her. Nothing is going to be spared on her. But the moment she finds out that she is pregnant, she starts hating on Sarah and putting her down. Not only this, when her son grows up, she passes this attitude on down to him. When Sarah does get pregnant at age 90 in the way God intended and her son is born, Hagar’s boy makes fun of his brother. He jokes in a very negative way about this old woman having a son. For Sarah, this is the last straw, and she demands that Abraham send them both away.
Hagar and her son Ishmael had it all, but because of their attitudes they lose it and find themselves in the desert. Their supplies have run out, and they are looking at death. Hagar could run through the scenes of her mind of how her actions had led her to this place. She knew they were going to die, and she was ready to give up. Even though they had blown it, God did not give up on them. When God looked down, he did not see two dying individuals. He saw two people who were going to become a great nation. God opened Hagar’s eyes to see a well of water right there in the middle of the desert.
There is someone here whose actions have led them to a very low point in their lives, and you are just about ready to give up. You would love to undo the past, but you know you can’t go back and change what happened. You could be having a hard time with someone close to you. It might even be your fault that you find yourself where you are.
But recognize that your past behavior has not cancelled God’s call on your life, if you would just get up and follow the word of the Lord. There is a well of water there in your desert. Just keep praying for the Lord to show you the well, and know that God has not forgotten you. I don’t know how long Hagar and Ishmael wandered in that desert before their supplies ran out, but their wanderings led them to the place where God could open her eyes to see the well. God knows how long your little supplies are going to last.
There are going to be times also in our lives, where our failure is not going to be intentional. We are going to really mean what we say. Our commitment is going to be genuine when we make it. One night, Jesus was in a somewhat somber and down cast mood. As a matter of fact, it was his last night of freedom on the earth before being arrested and voluntarily giving up his life on the cross. Jesus and the disciples had eaten the last supper together, and Jesus had told them that one of them would betray him. They all wanted to know who it was. Jesus would not tell them that it was Judas.
Later that night, after they had sung a hymn, they went outside. Judas was no longer with them, because he had left to betray Jesus. Now it’s Jesus and the faithful eleven. Perhaps the disciples recognized that Judas was no longer with them and that maybe, he was the one who would betray Jesus. While this thought may have been circulating through their heads, Jesus makes another pronouncement. He says, “tonight, everyone one of you will fall away because of me.” In other words, “all of you are going to betray me, yes each and everyone of you.”
If Jesus came walking up into this pulpit, and said to us all, “one of you is going to betray me this week.” Most of us would start thinking about who is going to do this and what awful thing is he or she going to do.” But what happens if Jesus says, “all of you are going to betray me this week.” What images swirl around in your head. Or do you think immediately, “they might, but not me Lord?”
Peter was one of the top three of the 12 disciples. Jesus had pointed out that not only was Peter in the top three, he would become the number one disciple at one point. Peter tried to encourage Jesus, by saying, “lord you can count on me no matter what. Even if all these other guys turn their backs on you, I never will.” Jesus then tells Peter, “I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
You would think that would have ended the matter and the discussion, but it did not. Peter responded one more time—“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” His words inspired the other disciples to all say the same thing.
They are all making a commitment, but they do not understand all the cost that is going to be involved.
When God tells us, that we are going to betray him, God not only knows the future, God knows what is in the human heart. When things do not go our way or in the way we expect them to go, it is far to easy to betray our Lord and Savior. We can take sides or positions, or say things that show we are not on the Lord’s side. We have to choose to not betray Christ in those situations.
When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, all of the disciples were ready to fight to the death. Peter pulled out a sword and cut off one the attacker’s ear. Jesus told them, “put away your swords and stop fighting. Don’t you know I could have 72,000 angels at my side right now.” When he said that, the disciples probably expected the angels to show up. But they did not.
Instead Jesus, reaches out his hand for theme to arrest him and carry him away. The disciples did not mind going out with a fight, but they were not about to voluntarily just give up their lives. They said, “hey. We are out of here.” They all deserted him and fled.
Peter was one of the disciples that tried to mingle in with the crowd to see what was going to happen to Jesus. But having been one of the top three disciples when Jesus was popular, others began to recognize him. He was standing their trying to keep warm by the fire. A servant girl came, and said, “I recognize you, you were also with Jesus of Galilee.” Peter tried to play it off by laughing and saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Have you ever tried to play off your faith to be a part of the crowd. He then got up, and went to the gateway. Another girl saw him, and she to said to a group, “This fellows was with Jesus of Nazareth. This time Peter tried to be a little more forceful with his argument. He said, “I swear under oath, I don’t know the man.”
Peter did not know how to keep his mouth shut, because people listened closely to him as he was talking. This time a group of guys walk over to him, and say, “look man, we can hear your accent from being up north. How are you going to say, you do not know the man, when you’re from the same place? What’s the real deal here.” Peter is getting scared now that he’s got a group coming after him. This time, he goes all out, “If I’m lying, let there be a curse on me, my momma, and anything else I hold dear, I swear to you “I don’t know the man.” As the words rolled off his tongue, he heard the rooster crowing, just like Jesus had said would happen.
Would it be helpful if we heard the rooster crow each time we betrayed Christ. I want you to know there is a rooster that crows, that’s call the Holy Spirit. If you are walking with the Lord, when you sin it’s going to bother you spiritually. You will get a sense of remorse and guilt. If you can do wrong without feeling a need for repentance, then chances are, you are not saved. The moment Peter heard that rooster, he heard the words of Jesus, “before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. Peter went outside that gate and wept bitterly.
Some of you know the feeling of having the weight of what you’ve done come down upon you all at once. It is a burden that gets too heavy to bear. The devil would like nothing more than for us to carry that burden in secret for as long as possible, to keep us from coming back to the Lord. Peter never expected to get to this place. After all, Jesus had told him he was going to be the rock upon which the church was going to be built.
If you had looked Peter at that moment, crying bitterly, what would you have seen. A person who was a phony? A person who was a failure? A person who could no longer could be trusted? A person who was on his way back to a right relationship with God, to be equipped for the ministry of Jesus Christ to make a difference in the lives of others.
When others fail, so often all we can see is the failure at the moment especially when we never saw it coming. A person’s point of failure is not always the best place to judge a person by. There may be more to the person than what we’re looking at, at that moment. Be slow to react on your anger. When we fail, Jesus sees us before the failure, during the failure and after the failure all in the same moment of time. That it is why he told Peter, “Satan has asked permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail and after you are restored, you will strengthen your brothers.” Jesus was telling him, not to give up in advance.
There were no disciples there when Peter denied Jesus those three times. So how do you think this story made it into the word of God. Peter at some point humbled himself before the other disciples and told them, “fellows, here is how I betrayed the Lord. 3 times I denied knowing Jesus. Forgive me for my boasting, my thinking I was somehow better than the rest of you in my faith.” His repentance led to a change in his attitude and his actions.
After Jesus had died and been resurrected from the dead, he had appeared before the disciples twice when they were in a house. They were suppose to go to Galilee to wait for Jesus to appear there. While waiting, they did not know what to do so Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” Six of the disciples said, “we’ll go with you.” They were going back to doing what they had done before Jesus called them to ministry. They fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus was on the shore, and he yelled to them, “Look if you throw your nets on the right side of the boat you will catch some.” They did, and they caught so many fish, 153 large ones that the nets almost broke.
The disciple John said, “that guy has to be the Lord who told us to throw our nets on the other side.” Peter jumped into the water to be the first one to get to Jesus. Jesus was already cooking fish for them to eat. Well they sat and had a good time eating. But there is this kind of awkwardness taking place. For instance why were they fishing for fish, when Jesus had told them to fish for people? Another question, who was to be in charge, since Peter had failed pretty miserably? They were not even sure if Jesus fully knew what Peter had done.
So as they are gathered around each other, Jesus starts to break the ice on the questions that really people wanted to ask but did not know how. Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Simon, son of John” do you love me more than these. Peter brings Jesus back to the first time of them meeting together by calling him, “Simon son of John”, after all it was Jesus who told him, your name will become Peter. The name Peter meant rock.
When Jesus asks “do you love me more than these?”, what is he asking Peter. He could be asking one of three things or all of them, 1). do you love me more than these men love me, 2) do you love me more than you love these men and/or 3) do you love me more than the lifestyle you can get from this fishing.
So if Jesus was asking us this it is going to mean something slightly different for each of us depending upon where our treasure is. How does our commitment level to Christ compare to others in the body of Christ? Are you faithful as a member or do you just show up? Does the approval and praise we get from other people mean more to us, than having God’s approval on our lives? Are we more interested in living in comfort, than in living in Christ? Do you love Jesus more than these?
Peter wraps them all three in one and he says, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus says feed my lambs. Those lambs represent people who are coming to Christ that Jesus loves dearly. Jesus is instructing Peter to be responsible for them. Now you would expect Jesus to then look over at John or Thomas or James and put them to the test. But he doesn’t.
Jesus looks again at Peter, and says “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me.” Can you love Jesus, even when you don’t feel like it? Can you love Jesus when you’ve lost everything? Can you love Jesus when it’s just you and Jesus and nobody else sees what you’re doing? Can you love Jesus, because you know he died for you and without him you have no hope?
Peter was a little surprised, that Jesus had come back at him again. Some of us would have said, “aren’t you going to ask these other guys.” But Peter responds, Yes Lord you know that I love you.” This time Jesus responds, “Take care of my sheep.” He’s telling Peter, “you are to be in charge of the mature saints as well. You take care of them for me and watch over them.”
Jesus then says, “oh by the way, Simon son of John, do you love me? At this point Peter took it personally that Jesus had asked him three times and his feelings were hurt. He’s thinking “why does he not believe what I am saying”. At this point some of us would have given up and got up and walked away in a huff. I don’t need this kind of harassment. We forget that it was our own actions that led us to this place we are in. Peter keeps his hurt inside, with all the eyes of the other six staring at him, and he says, “Lord you know all things, you know that I love you.”
Jesus tells him again, “Feed my sheep.” What’s Jesus doing here. Well he is making it sure that Peter understands the trust and confidence Jesus has in him. Three times Peter had stood boldly and denied that he had known the Lord. Three times he humbly stands and proclaims his love for the Lord.
Jesus is letting the others know, that he knows all about Peter’s three failures. He was more interested in Peter’s 3 affirmations than the failures. He also lets them know that Peter is to be over the lambs and the sheep. He is still going to be the rock upon which the church will be to built. Jesus then tells Peter what his future would be like including a death that would glorify God.
Peter had no idea of all he would go through in making his commitment, failing in it, and seeing God’s plan accomplished in his life. I do not know what commitment you may have made to God, to yourself or to someone else, in which you failed and maybe failed miserably. But today may be the day your rooster is crowing, and its time for you to admit it, so that you can begin again to enter in a right relationship with God. You don’t have to quit the faith. You don’t have to quit the struggle. The call is to let Jesus walk with you through it.
It was painful for Peter to be asked those questions by Jesus. It was painful to be humbled in front of the others. But nobody had any doubt that Peter had been forgiven and restored to the place God had for him after that day with Jesus. Where do you need restoration today? What relationship needs mending? If you’re willing to live for Jesus, there’s strength available to keep you from giving up. God will do something new in your life. It comes with the price tag of paying the price to follow Jesus.
Sermon Outline-Pastor Rick
“Don’t Give Up”
Genesis 21:14-21 Matthew 26:69-47
John 21:1-19 7/15/07
A. Have You Ever Messed Up.
1. Things Were Going Well
2. No Problem I Can Handle It.
3. God Does Not Give Up
4. Abraham & Sarah-Great Saints
5. God Takes Too Long
6. Hagar & Ishmael
7. Why The Hating & Put Down
8. From House To Desert
9. Death Looks Certain
10. What Does God See
11. God Is In The Desert
12. God’s Plan For You Still Valid
13. God Knows How Many Supplies
B. Trying To Stand By My Commitment
1. A Genuine Commitment
2. Jesus Has Some Bad News
3. One Of You Will Betray
4. Judas Becomes Suspect
5. All You Will Betray
6. Jesus In The Pulpit
7. Peter Pledges Loyalty
8. Jesus Speaks Of The Rooster
C. The Cost Of A Commitment
1. How Can We Betray Christ
2. 72,000 Angels In A No Show
3. The Disciples Flee
4. Peter Tries To Mingle
5. A Girl-A Denial
6. A Girl—An Oath
7. A Group—A Curse
D. The Power Of A Rooster
1. The Holy Spirit Convicts
2. If Sin Does Not Bother Us
3. Peter is In Tears
4. What Do You See
5. Failure Not Always The Truth
6. Jesus Sees Something Differently
7. Stan Wants Permission To Sift
E. Failure Can Make Us More Usable
1. Peter Humbles Himself
2. Attitude & Action Change
F. Miracle At The Beach
1. Peter Decided To Go Fishing
2. Seven Disciples-No Fish
3. Jesus On The Beach
4. A Huge Catch Of 153
5. Jesus Cooks Breakfast
G. Let’s Get Down To Business
1. Why Were They Fishing
2. Whose Going To Be In Charge
3. Do You Love Me More Than These
4. Commitment, People, Lifestyle
5. Feed The Lambs
6. Do You Love Me
7. Nothing But Me
8. Take Care My Sheep
9. Do You Love Me
10. You’ve Hurt My Feelings
H. Affirmation & Restoration
1. 3 Bold Times—3 Humble Times
2. Full Faith & confidence
3. Still The Rock
4. Painful Process
5. Restoration Is Possible.
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