Peter: Failure is not Final

By Carol Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 9.21.30 AM

Proverbs 24:16 – For a just man falleth seven times, and rises again…

None of us are immune to the sting of failure. Even after we are saved, living with our old nature makes sure of that. Knowing that we will experience failure, that we will make unwise decisions and choose to sin, we find ourselves questioning if there is any hope for us in our failures. We don’t have to look any farther than Peter to see what God’s grace can accomplish in the midst of failure. From the life of Peter we can learn some helpful lessons on how to avoid and handle the failures of life.

1. Learn from the Past.

Matthew 14:22-33 tells the story of Peter’s great faith when he stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. We would no doubt classify this as a great success in Peter’s life, and even Jesus was pleased with Peter’s faith. Peter also must have realized in the midst of this success the central figure was Jesus. Success comes through Christ’s power alone. When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink. That’s when failure comes. Peter had many other times in his life where Jesus gave him instruction. Like Peter, our past contains valuable lessons. Instead of wasting past successes and failures, we should use them as a catalyst for growth.

2. Learn to heed warnings from God and others.

Peter had the extraordinary benefit of getting to be with Jesus almost 24/7 for three years. Imagine the wisdom and instruction he received from Christ during those years. Peter even had the benefit of an especially close relationship with Jesus as he, James, and John were often called aside for greater instruction, revelation, and responsibility. Scripture records several times when Jesus patiently instructs Peter when he speaks or acts without thought. In Matthew 26:34 Jesus tells Peter that he would deny and forsake Him that very night. Jesus was warning Peter. Peter does not heed the warning. Instead of a humble response, Peter essentially tells Jesus he is wrong. But many times we are no different than Peter. We have the extraordinary benefit of God’s completed Word that guides and warns us. Once saved, we have the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives Who also provides instruction. Countless times God sends His warning through other Christians who are truly concerned for us and our walk with Christ. We need to heed the instruction and warning God places in our life. They are meant for our good.

3. Guard not only your weaknesses but your strengths as well.

Most of us are at least somewhat aware of our strengths and weaknesses. It’s wise to evaluate them often. While we tend to guard ourselves in areas where we are lacking and even concentrate on growth in those areas, we leave our strengths wide open for attack. Peter was a man of passion, a go-getter, zealous in all his endeavors; all commendable qualities. Yet this is where we find Peter attacked. In his last zealous act before Christ’s crucifixion and his denial of Jesus, Peter swung his sword cutting off Malchus’ ear as they were about to take Jesus away. Jesus healed and restored the man’s ear and then warned Peter concerning his zeal. Many of Peter’s failures actually stemmed from his unchecked, unbridled strengths. Our weaknesses keep us humble and our knees, but our strengths can often lead to pride and self sufficiency. Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Wisdom tells us to guard all aspects of our heart.

4. Failure is not final.

Peter must have experienced great torment the three days between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Sorrow and guilt is a needed response to our sin, but after we have repented and forgiveness has been given we can, at times, be our own worst critic. We may be able to give grace to others for their errors, but we don’t allow any grace for ourselves. We cannot bring ourselves to accept the gift of grace God freely offers. That grace was offered to Peter when the angel told Mary Magdalene to tell Peter that Jesus was risen from the dead. (Mark16:7). Later after Jesus’ resurrection, he met the disciples on the shore for breakfast. There he asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. (John 21:15-17). He wasn’t done with Peter. God used Peter greatly at Pentecost when he preached the gospel and three thousand were saved (Acts 2:41). God worked through Peter’s life, his successes and failures, using him to accomplish His plan. Living perfectly and without failure is impossible. God never asks us to be perfect, but to always grow into Christ’s likeness. The key word is grow. Peter was a success for the Lord, because he continued to grow in grace. And God blessed him for that.

 

Peter failed. We will too. However, Peter was not a failure, and neither are we if we will learn and grow and do all for the glory of God.

Trusting God In a Changing World

By Pastor Dorrell

Crown of thorns

It’s amazing sometime how quickly life can change. We live in a face-paced and busy world, and the life we live can be very unpredictable. Circumstances can change, people can change, and of course we all know how quickly the weather can change. But, with sudden change often comes a sense of uncertainty or insecurity. For the most part, people like things to be the same and to know what to expect. When circumstances or people rock our world, we often worry and fret, or—even worse—we become angry and unhappy.

The 7 Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

By Jesse Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 7.55.47 AM

A person’s dying words are often some of the most important words a person will say. There are seven last words of Jesus recorded for us in scripture. Nothing Jesus ever said was trite or insignificant, but these seven sayings hold some very precious truths for us.

Father, Forgive Them

Luke 23:34

The forgiveness of sin was the purpose of Christ’s death on the cross. The soldiers who drove the nails into His hands and feet and who cast lots to claim His garments were for the most part ignorant of whom they were dealing with. They probably thought of Him as just another criminal. But in spite of their ignorance, Jesus wanted them to be forgiven, too. What a tremendous picture of God’s mercy, grace, and compassion. God has forgiven us of our sins, also. Let us be careful not to take such a gift for granted.

To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Luke 23:43

There is a powerful truth in this statement given by Jesus to the criminal on the cross next to Him. The criminal believed who Jesus was when in faith he asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus would enter His kingdom. Jesus’ response tells us that there is no other way to be saved than faith. The criminal had no chance to get baptized, give money to the church, feed the poor, or deny himself in any way. He had no other recourse than to fully trust in Jesus. And that is the place anyone must come to be forgiven and saved from their sin—an all out faith in Jesus and Jesus alone.

Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!

John 19:26, 27

In this moment we see two things. First, Jesus was a caring a responsible individual who took great care of those He loved. His mother would no longer have Him physically near to take care of her needs, so Jesus saw to her wellbeing by giving her to John. Second, Jesus’ relationship with Mary was going to be different now. Jesus had been her son for 33 years, but now He would be her Savior for eternity. Mary was blessed to have birthed the Son of God, but she was as much in need of a Savior as any other person ever born. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world including yours and mine.

My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken me?

Mathew 27:46

Perhaps this was the agonizing punishment that Jesus was dreading the most. Never in all eternity had Jesus and God been apart. The Holy God had to separate Himself from His only Son, because at that moment Jesus became sin for us, and God could not fellowship with sin. Because of that moment, we can fellowship with God by believing that Jesus died for us.

I thirst.

John 19:28

Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. There can be no doubt that Jesus was physically exhausted. His human body would have been in great need of many things including a great thirst. But some time before, He told the woman at the well that if any man thirst for God they need to drink the Living Water. It may be that Jesus at this moment of separation from God knew for the first time what it was to thirst for God. Jesus knew all our sin and all its consequences including the void that exists in the heart that cannot fellowship with God. Jesus thirsted so we would never have to thirst again.

It is finished.

John 19:30

What an incredibly important statement. Finished. Complete. Paid in full. Jesus satisfied the holiness of God so that the wrath of God would be spared. It is impossible to fully grasp what Jesus did for us. If we could even comprehend the desolation of our own sinful hearts we could begin to understand, but we can’t even do that. How can we ever appreciate something so vast? As far as the east is from the west, that is how far He has removed our iniquity. It is finished. There is nothing left for you or me to do. It was finished on the cross.

Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.

Luke 23:46

Jesus was absolutely alone on the cross. None of His friends or disciples were up there with Him. God had turned His back on His Son. Darkness cloaked Calvary’s hill. He was alone. Then Jesus said this with a loud voice, perhaps in desperation for God to hear, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” He felt that He must yell these words because God was so far from Him. Then Jesus was silent. He laid down His life and gave up the ghost. He had fully obeyed and done the work of His Father, and now He trusted His spirit into His Father’s care believing that God would raise Him from the dead.

God’s plan of salvation is so wonderful and so amazing. Everything Jesus said on the cross helps us appreciate what He went through for us. Then to think that it was all done because God so loved the world—because God so loved me—my heart is filled with gratitude and worship.

The Hope of the Future

By John Mardirosian

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 9.12.40 AM

Eastland Baptist Church has enjoyed a great history. As Youth Pastor, I look at our teens and dream of all the great things God has planned for each of them and for our future here at Eastland.

We are truly blessed with a great church and a great group of teenagers. I have the privilege of spending time with them each week and getting to know them individually. Our teens have a great heart to know and serve God. While you might not have the same opportunity every week, I want you to get to know our teens and invest in their lives. The investment you make today will reap unimaginable dividends in years to come. This past year, we saw amazing investments through the Dessert Auctions and “I Love my Church” Offering.

You invested significantly through the “I Love My Church” Offering. With that offering, we were able to construct new restrooms, add a welcome center, replace HVAC, create a new back entrance with awning, install windows across the front, install new front doors, a new front porch, and a wheelchair ramp. We could not have completed any of this work without your generosity. Before our “I Love My Church” Offering this year, we will take some time for our teens to tell you how grateful they are for your generosity.

We will be taking our “I Love My Church” Offering on Sunday, April 23rd. This year’s offering will again be designated for our teenagers and the completion of the youth room renovation. Significant progress has been made, but we still need to complete drywall and painting, install new flooring throughout, add lighting in the game room, and add roll-up doors between the game room and Jr. High room. This year’s offering will pay for a significant part of this work.

We are expecting great things for the future of Eastland Baptist Church. One of the ways we are making preparation is through the continued investment in our teenagers. Thank you for all the investments you have made and will make this year through our special “I Love My Church” offering.

Thomas – Friend of Jesus

By Carol Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 3.29.10 PM

While writing the script for this Easter’s dramatization I knew I wanted to study the life of Thomas. You see, I think if most of us are honest, we see ourselves in Thomas maybe more than any other character in the resurrection story. What comes to mind when you hear Thomas’ name? We all know Thomas’ label – doubter…doubting Thomas. He earned this reputation based on one incident in his life. I’m not sure that we should be so quick to label others. A label dismisses a person’s other positive character traits and diminishes the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in their life. A negative label defines and devalues a soul for whom Jesus gave His life, a soul He loves. I spent many hours reading about Thomas and studying the different times he is mentioned in the Scriptures, and I found out there was a lot more to the man Thomas than just one label.

God’s Word records three separate times that Thomas speaks. We can learn much from the life of Thomas and his relationship with Christ.  

Mary Magdalene – Lessons from a Servant’s Heart

By Carol Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 4.24.59 PM

Who was Mary Magdalene? We do not know much about her past. Luke 8:2 does mention Jesus had healed her from evil spirits and infirmities, but that is about all we know. What we do know is that was her past; it was her old life. It did not look anything like her new life in Christ. Once she believed on Jesus her past no longer dictated her future. Thankfulness now filled her heart, and Mary desired to serve the Lord. She served her Lord because of her love for Him. We can learn some important truths from Mary’s heart of service.

Mary – Surviving the Sword

By Carol Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 3.35.30 PM

Luke 2:34-35

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his Mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

3 Parts of a Worshipping Heart

By Jesse Becker

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 12.29.54 PM

Many people followed Jesus to varying degrees while He was on earth. There were the multitudes who were curious. There were the sick, blind, and lame who needed healing. There were some who Jesus specifically chose the follow Him so He could teach them and prepare them for ministry. And then there were a few who left all they knew and all they had just to be near the Master. They lived a life of worship for their Lord. What drove them to live that way?

Slow Down, and Live!

By Jim Ramsey

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 10.37.11 AM

What a busy world I enjoy! (or maybe, endure!) I often jokingly tell our seniors: “Life sure gets a lot more simple at our ‘life stage doesn’t it!’” NOT! Truth is, at the age of 65+ it seems like my Daily Planner is more crowded than ever.

I was thinking of an activity that was obviously not a part of Jesus’ life as seen in the New Testament: HE never RAN anywhere! Yet HE was always where HE needed to be when HE needed to be. Could it be that if HE is my Guide in life that I might need to slow down in order to live the abundant life HE wants for me? “Abundant” can be full without being fast!

Reasons to Direct our Thinking – Part 2

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 9.56.29 AM

The Bible teaches us that we are to direct our thinking toward those things that honor God and are good for us. Part of the reason for this is that our thinking takes us somewhere. When we direct and align our thinking with the Bible and wisdom, we find life and peace. However, when we allow our thinking to become negative and worldly, we discover outcomes that diminish us and hurt others.