Empowered for Purpose, Part 3
By examining the life of Peter, we have been studying for the last two weeks how God empowers us for purpose. His Spirit and Word are conforming us into the image of Christ and enabling us to advance God’s kingdom.
Peter’s true identity was not defined by his failures, nor is your true identity defined by your mistakes and failures!
Peter was full of outward love and zeal for the Lord. Unfortunately, his zeal was tainted with weakness and pride. Peter made several mistakes as he began to walk with Jesus, eventually denying Him three times before His crucifixion. But after His resurrection, Jesus, in His love, compassion, and eternal purposes for Peter and humanity, restores him.
Our lives are determined by God’s eternal design and purpose woven into each of us. However, our true purpose and calling are often clouded by our human weakness, mistakes, and failures. But in Christ, our old nature is rendered powerless and our new nature is released. As we live from our new life in Jesus, we discover our true identity and begin to live from God’s eternal design for our lives.
There are no super saints in Church history, only ordinary women, and men, like Peter, who chose to follow and obey the Lord. Surrender to Christ is the pathway to transformation and destiny fulfilled.
Like Peter, many, are in a place of transition—between the past and future. Transition can be unsettling, but you must move forward to live victoriously.
Transition for Peter included confronting the barrier erected in his mind between his past failure and his future with new hopes and dreams. A “suddenly” had come, a change was unfolding, and he had to embrace it.
Sometimes failures provide back doors to success. Every obstacle overcome strengthens you and moves you toward destiny fulfilled. God can use even the enemy’s attack to enable you to fulfill destiny. As Christians, we cannot easily classify ourselves (or others) as either a success or failure. There is a mixture of both in all of us.
Peter had to confront his fear too. Often, we attempt to control what we don’t understand or fear. Fear stops us from moving forward in life and purpose. One of the most repeated commands in scripture is to “fear not!” Why? To refuse fear permits faith to flourish. Confident faith is free of fear and at peace during the adversities of life.
The battleground for the enemy is primarily in our minds.
He is defeated, but he uses wrong beliefs about God, the Bible, our identity, and others to entrap us by believing his half-truths and lies. As a born-again believer in Christ, you are indwelt by His Spirit and have the mind of Christ. But you must allow the Spirit and truth of God’s Word to guide and lead you.
Although we live in the world, we don’t fight our battles with human methods. Our weapons that we fight with aren’t human, but instead they are powered by God for the destruction of fortresses. They destroy arguments, and every defense that is raised up to oppose the knowledge of God. They capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5 CEB
Fortresses are primarily ungodly belief systems … they need to be dismantled and replaced with Godly truths and beliefs!
Consider your thought life and beliefs as walls to a castle. If you have been hurt or wounded in the past, you may have “walled off” an area of your thoughts, attitudes, or beliefs. Subconsciously, you may have erected ungodly beliefs that are now entrenched in your thinking, attitudes, and behaviors.
These beliefs (walls) must be removed and replaced with Godly truths and healing through Jesus where needed. Ungodly beliefs will hinder you from walking in God’s truth, hinder your ability to resist the enemy’s schemes, and rob you of living the abundant life God promises. (Read more about this in Principles for Abundant Living Part 5)
Use the spiritual weapons given you (Eph. 6:10-18) to develop an effective strategy against the enemy—beginning with replacing ungodly thinking with God’s truth by the power of Holy Spirit in you.
Let us examine Peter’s new identity further to gain insights for our own lives.
When the day of Pentecost had come, not only do we see the disciples filled with God’s love and power, but we observe Peter’s new identity in action. Empowered by the infilling of the Spirit, Peter takes his role as a shepherd (remember, Jesus said, “Feed My sheep!”), by boldly proclaiming the gospel to thousands in Jerusalem. As a result, three thousand came to Christ that day! (see Acts 2:1-41)
Peter is no longer ‘Simon’ (which means ‘the waverer’) but ‘Peter’ (which means ‘the steadfast rock’). He has a new nature, a new identity, and is empowered by God’s Word and Spirit. He has become a bold and courageous witness for Jesus, ready to die for Him.
Peter’s destiny was to be a leading apostle in the early church—this was God’s plan for him before he was born. Life’s circumstances and his choices hid his true identity from him. But Jesus restored Peter after the resurrection and declared his true identity—to be a shepherd, a leader, and a leading apostle.
Understand that when we are born-again, we are now in Christ and God not only renders our old nature powerless, but God no longer reminds us of our past. In fact, the Spirit speaks to who we are now in Christ and brings us into understanding of our relationship with the Father and our new identity. Consider what both Paul and John wrote:
So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Rom 6:11 NLT
“we have passed from death to life…” 1 John 3:14 NKJV
The very life of God has come within us. It is a life without death! His perfected love in us casts out all fear. We live from His life now, not from our old life or nature!
You are loved and accepted by the Father, restored in every way through Christ. As you endeavor to walk faithfully with Jesus, you can be confident that all things are working together for the good and that your prayers are being heard and answered! He is a good, good Father!
Paul wrote to the Ephesians as to where we are now relationally in Christ,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Eph. 2:4-6 NIV
We have been raised with Christ into newness of life, living from His identity and His victory. We are made alive together in Him and raised to His new life and authority. When we understand this as truth, and not just a “theological talking point,” we begin to live with greater confidence in our world to be the light in the darkness.
However, if we see ourselves from our old nature and life, we won’t receive by faith what God has made available.
Do you remember the story of the children of Israel in Numbers 13? God has led them out of Egypt and promised them the land of Canaan (Num. 13:2). Moses is instructed to send one leader from each of the twelve tribes of Israel into the land to spy it out.
The twelve return and Caleb says, “Let us go up at once and take the land—we can do this!” (Num. 13:30) Despite the walled cities and giants, Caleb knows God has promised them the land and sees the obstacles as mere “speed bumps” on the road to destiny fulfilled. Except for Joshua, the other ten spies were fearful of what they saw in Canaan—God’s promise was not enough for them—their human reasoning denied faith to lead them.
There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Num. 13:33 NKJV
The result? An entire generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, wandered in the wilderness and died. God’s promise of inheritance was left for another generation. What was the root problem? At the surface, unbelief, and fear.
But at a deeper level, the real issue was their false identity about themselves. They still saw themselves as slaves (grasshoppers) and therefore even the enemy saw them as slaves (grasshoppers). Simply stated, slaves do not win battles, only those who have a renewed mind, perspective, and understand their identity in God. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he…” Prov. 23:7 NKJV
Like Peter, we must discover in our journey with Jesus that our old man is crucified and rendered powerless. This includes our human reasoning and carnal thinking. You are what you believe! You have the mind of Christ, agree with it!
We are empowered by Holy Spirit to be someone we were not prior to conversion. From broken sinner to beloved saint! There is hope for each of us—despite our past!
The richness of the life we live today and the legacy we leave tomorrow will be determined by whether or not we can overcome our fears, hurts, and failures of the past and find the strength and courage to be the extraordinary people God created us to be.
Here’s the great news, it is God who is at work in you to not only transform you into the image of Christ, but who also empowers you for His purposes and to become all He destined you to be.
I love what twentieth-century healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth said about being extraordinary, “You can never be ordinary from the day you receive this life from above. You become extraordinary, filled with the extraordinary power of our extraordinary God.”
Indeed! Our born-again experience unites us with Jesus and indwells us with His Spirit. Our bodies are now the very temple of God and we operate from His extraordinary life within. We have the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us to live from His realm and authority. You are extraordinary because an extraordinary God is at work in you!
Peter, “Do you love Me?” “Yes Lord, I love you.” “Then feed My sheep!”
The Lord restored Peter, but He also gave Him a word he could stand on. It empowered him. Because he had a prophecy, a word from God that he would shepherd God’s people, he could push aside fear and act confidently as the Spirit led. Peter was becoming what was prophesied.
By the way, when God gives us His Word about our identity or personal prophecy, He is giving us permission to become that word and move forward faster. Prophecy helps propel us into purpose. By the way, everything is accelerating in our time.
Jesus said, “the time is coming, even now is …” The gap is narrowing. Remember, a thousand years is as a day, and a day as a thousand years. God determines the times and seasons, but we can hasten the fulfillment of prophecies over our life.
We are called not just to walk with God, but to run with Him. He needs an overcoming people who will run with Him in the earth in this hour. God’s anointing upon our lives empowers us to do the greater works. The Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy empower us to accelerate and to become what God has said we are.
When God gives us a word, He is revealing what He is seeing, what He has determined. We now have His favor and permission to see the same way. Prophecy is not about survival but learning how to overcome and prosper because you have the word of the Lord. When we declare His word, it changes situations.
We must change from an earthly mindset to a heavenly mindset. Our citizenship is in heaven, above the circumstances of this world. In Numbers 13, there was only one report from the twelve spies. Ten reported from an earthly perspective, but Joshua and Caleb saw from heaven’s perspective.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice …” Acts 2:14
After Pentecost, Peter isn’t the same person any longer. He is bold and confident and preaches with authority. As a result, many come to Christ. Peter was awakened to his true identity (steadfast rock) which empowered him to step into his destiny.
My prayer for you is that you will awaken to God’s true identity and calling over your life. Combined with His Word and Spirit, you will arise to fulfill your calling and destiny and help radically advance God’s kingdom in the earth!
Next week I’ll finish this series looking at three other dynamics at work in Peter’s life after Pentecost.
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Empowered for Purpose, Part 3”