What Am I Made For? 
Part 2

Have you ever failed God?

Perhaps you’ve repented for a sin, only to find you just can’t seem to get completely free. Maybe you have vowed to serve God faithfully, only to find failure seems to repeat itself. The truth is, all of us have failed at some point in life. There are no “super saints” in church history, only ordinary men and women who decided to follow God despite their own human weakness and failures.

If you’ve ever had a major setback in life or with God, the odds are that, unless you have overcome the guilt, shame, or wrong beliefs associated with the failure, you are plateaued and not moving upward in your purpose and destiny in God.

A recent survey of adults revealed that 31% fear failure. It’s the fear of failure that inhibits most people from attempting new things or setting goals. [1]

Looking at the life of the Apostle Peter, we observe both his successes and failures. From his life, we can glean principles to overcome setbacks and better understand God’s call on our lives as we transition from our past into the future. 

Peter, ordinary man, restored disciple, chosen leader

Peter was an ordinary man. He had a wife, a home, and a normal occupation. He wasn’t a trained religious leader, nor did he seem very spiritual. But one day, Peter met Jesus. “Follow me,” became a clarion call and new direction for Peter—he would never be the same.

As Peter followed Jesus, he exhibited great passion, zeal, faith, immaturity, and weakness. Like most of us, one-minute Peter was passionately following Christ, and in the next he blundered in something he said or did.

Peter was one of the three intimate disciples  who were the closest to Jesus (James and John were the others). For example, they were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and beheld the pre-resurrection glory of Christ. They were also with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, during a time of great need for Jesus, and fell asleep while praying with him before he was crucified.

Another time, when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”, it was Peter who boldly declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

And who can forget that stormy night on the sea of Galilee when Jesus came walking on the water toward the frightened disciples in the boat. It was Peter who said, “Lord, if it’s you, bid me to come to you!” And Jesus said to zealous Peter, “Come!” For a moment, Peter walked on the water, because he was courageous enough to step out in faith. We might remember his failure, but he was the only disciple courageous enough to go for it!

You see, it’s better to be a wet water walker than a dry boat sitter!

Yet, when Jesus declared, “I’m headed to Jerusalem,” Peter said, “Not so Lord!” Jesus responded by saying, “Get behind me Satan. You are not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men!” Jesus was correcting Peter’s thinking, which was influenced by the evil one.

I love Paul, his writings, his theology, and his life story. It inspires me. But for me personally, it’s Peter that I most closely identify with. An ordinary man, full of passion, courage, faith, weakness and, yes, failure.

Most of us, like Peter (or if you remember the story of Jacob), will seemingly limp into our destinies! It’s in our brokenness that we realize how dependent upon God we are; not our strength, but His. It’s by grace; otherwise, it would depend on works!

We discover that through Jesus our old man is crucified and rendered powerless, and we are empowered by Holy Spirit to be someone we weren’t prior to conversion. From broken sinner to beloved saint! There is hope!

Many, like Peter, are in a place of transition—between the past and future. Transition can be unsettling, but you must move forward to discover what you are made for.

Part of Peter’s transition included confronting the barrier erected in his mind between his past failure and his hope and dream-filled future. A ‘suddenly’ had come, a change was unfolding, and he had to embrace it. As Peter discovered, the battleground for the enemy is primarily in our minds. The enemy is defeated, but he uses wrong beliefs about God, the Bible, our identity, and other things to entrap us. We get stuck by believing his half-truths and lies.

Remember, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” (2 Cor. 10:4 NKJV) We must use the spiritual weapons given us (Eph. 6:10-18) to develop an effective strategy against the enemy. We begin by replacing ungodly thinking with God’s truth by the power of Holy Spirit in us!

Restoration and Empowerment Begin for Peter

Jesus predicts Peter’s denial and failure

“And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” Peter had boasted “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” (Luke 22:31-34 NKJV)

Peter, displaying his loyalty, declared, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” (Matt 26:33 NKJV)

Notice that Jesus said, “Satan has asked for you, that he might sift you as wheat.” This scripture shows us that God will allow even the enemy to try and test us for His purposes. BUT, Jesus knew the outcome, and prayed for Peter. In Satan’s mind, he was rendering Peter useless for the Kingdom of God, but in the omniscient mind of God, Satan’s scheme was used as a tool to make Peter into a true disciple.

If you haven’t read the book of Job in a while, perhaps do so. God allowed Satan to inflict grievous hardship and pain upon him. In the end, God restored what was lost to Job, and he became even stronger in his faith and trust of God. Job declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15 NKJV)

Twentieth-century pastor and author A.W. Tozer made this profound statement, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” [2] This is a hard statement! At times, God, who loves us deeply, will allow pain and suffering, sometimes inflicted by the enemy, to bring about His greater purposes in our lives. Peter was being prepared to be a mighty apostle.

How is God refining you in this season of your life?

Tozer continued,

“God actually rises up storms of conflict in relationships at times in order to accomplish that deeper work in our character. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is graduate-level grace. Are you willing to enter this school? Are you willing to take the test? If you pass, you can expect to be elevated to a new level in the Kingdom. For He brings us through these tests as preparation for greater use in the Kingdom. You must pass the test first.”

How willing are we to enter God’s graduate-level school of grace? Are we willing to take the test? We are called to love and forgive our enemies. How much more to forgive those we are with in church community or close relationship?

Jesus Restores Peter

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” (John 21:15-19 NKJV)

After denying Jesus, Peter was restored to his leadership role in the body of Christ—oh, the depths of God’s grace and mercy! What he was made for was unfolding for Peter. It began when he was a child, and God used every success and failure to shape and prepare Peter for his role in the body of Christ.

We have all failed God at some point in our lives. Or, at the very least, some circumstance (perhaps beyond our control) has occurred that has set us back in life and has hindered us on our road to fulfilled destiny and purpose.

Perhaps the greatest cause for spiritual defeat is a guilty conscience, which can create a nagging sense of spiritual failure. One of Satan’s strategies is to keep Christians preoccupied with failure.

Peter was full of outward love and zeal for the Lord. Unfortunately, his zeal was tainted with pride and weakness. Peter, like most of us, failed repeatedly in his attempts to walk faithfully with Christ. Truly, we’re all chips off the same block.

Keep one thing in mind: 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.

For many, the doorway to abundant living is entered through a hallway of failure. Our past is a reminder of our need for God’s grace; our weaknesses make us appreciate not only God’s love for us, but also His strength. Leave the past behind and look with hope in Christ to the future. Don’t be defined by your past, but allow your past to draw you closer to God and into complete dependency.

Sometimes your failures provide backdoors to success. Every obstacle you overcome strengthens you and moves you toward destiny fulfilled. God can even use the enemies attack to move you toward purpose and destiny.

Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Now, after you have denied me three times, as I told you that you would, can you still affirm that you love me more than these other disciples do?” Peter denied Jesus in public, now Jesus restores him in public.

Peter is no longer ‘Simon’ (which means ‘the waverer’) but ‘Peter’ (which means ‘the steadfast rock’). He has a new nature … a new identity.

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.

“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

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new (kainós: new in nature) creation (ktísis: an object brought into creation by God); old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV

Jesus, through new birth, has created us with a new nature, we are brought into newness of nature and being by God!

We have been raised with Christ into newness of life, living from His identity and His victory… this is why we read of Peter “…standing up with the eleven, raised his voice …” Acts 2:14 NKJV

After Pentecost, Peter isn’t the same person any longer. The result: 3,000 come to Christ on the day of Pentecost! Peter was awakened to his true identity (steadfast rock) which empowered him to step into what he was made for.

The Lord is restoring us, renewing our minds, and is removing fear that has hidden our true identity. By His power, you can overcome the mountains of the past season that have hindered your progress toward your calling and purpose!

Remember, each promise of God brings some level of transition.

The promise is to help you discover purpose, destiny, and empower you to move forward. “Peter, feed my sheep!” A charge, but a promise that empowered him.

You must be willing to embrace the new season, while preserving the good from the old. Allow new paradigms in your thinking to form and embrace them.

Great change is occurring in our world. The Church is in a season where we are moving from Law based religion to Grace empowered practice. Love, not judgement, is the foundation. We embrace prophecy that releases a future hope in Christ!

This renewed perspective of grace is moving the Church into opportunities to declare hope and prophesy God’s purpose and timing so that his people will know what actions to take.

God’s grace empowers us to move through the narrow and challenging places in our path to fulfill destiny.

It’s a season of grace and favor, but it’s also a season of discipline. We are learning to discern His perfect timing. God is remolding and re-defining His bride, a warrior bride, spotless, pure and powerful!  Grace for the race is set before us!

Remember, nothing can separate you from God’s love in Christ. Like Peter, you are a mixture of success and failure!

Your failures and mistakes don’t define you. You and I are loved by God; the potter is molding us into the image of His son.

We are called to be disciples who will help reach others and make disciples of them. Like Peter, the Lord is calling us to, “Feed My sheep!” Don’t stay in your past, arise with God’s grace and be who He has called you to be. The harvest is ripe!

Prayer of Consecration:

Father, forgive me where I have fallen short of your glory. I want to walk faithfully with you. Help me release the pain and shame of the past. I receive your healing to be the person you created me to be. I receive my new identity in Christ over my life. I refuse to believe the lies of the enemy that try and define me by my past. Thank you Jesus for freedom today and grace to run the race set before me!

[1] http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-scared-20151031-story.html#

[2] A.W. Tozer, Root of the Righteous, ch. 39

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