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Levi Lusko - Good Night Failure, Good Morning Grace


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We are starting a brand new series of messages this week called Up in Smoke, that's the title of the series. They say 2017 was the most expensive year in firefighting history, with over $2 billion spent. That's an estimated cost just in this country. That number comes from the US Forest Service on fighting fires. And they say just in the western part of our country, the part of the country that's the best obviously. Sorry church online audience, I mean, anybody with me, west coast, west side. I was doing an interview this week, they was like, what do you like about the east coast? I was like, coming back home. That's what I like about the east coast.

So all the love for the east coast, but West Coast for sure. On the west coast, there were 50,000 fires. Over 50,000 fires. Significant fires in Oregon, significant large devastating fire in Utah, of course, Texas, California. But the largest fire on record last year, 2017, in the country was in the state of Montana. So most of us at Fresh Live locations and those at church online who were watching, but they live in the east coast so they turned it off out of hatred. No, I'm joking. Hopefully you're still with us. All the love for the east coast, OK? Just in the fight between In and Out and Shake Shack, obviously, In and Out, that's all I'm saying. So they say that the fires have gotten hotter and gotten wilder and whether this is global warming or whatever is causing it, one undeniable fact is that many of our lives have been impacted in some way or another by fire, if nothing else, just the smoke that is at times where there's fires going on.

And I kind of got the idea for this series during a time in the past couple of years when there was the kind of smoke everywhere and you can't ignore it. And of course, your heart's going out and we as a church are doing what we can to support and help those when they get afflicted by wildfires and displaced in difficulty and bring in aid and in all of that. But just kind of, when there's smoke everywhere, it just affects everything. There's times when it's so smoky aside, you can't exercise outside, or if you're on a sports team, you can't practice or even play a game outside. And so just thinking about what an impact it can have on your life when everything goes up in smoke. And of course, it can be catastrophic. Probably one of the most impacting movies I've seen recently was the movie, Only the Brave. This brave heroic hotshot crew and that all but one lost their lives fighting a fire. And while we're on the subject, is anybody else just so thankful for our firefighters, our first responders? I mean, especially these hot shot crews.

Come on, let's thank God for them. I don't think people like that get thanked enough. Paramedics, come on, police officers, those who serve their communities and make life better in the city that we live in. We just believe in the work that you're doing and we believe that you make life better, so thank you. Thank you, thank you for following a passion that God has put into your heart in getting into law enforcement or getting into driving an ambulance or being an EMT. So good. But what I was thinking was there are some amazing smoke stories in scripture. And as I was reading through the Bible, you just kind of with smoke everywhere, you couldn't ignore it, you couldn't deny it, it was everywhere. I just got to seeing all of these powerful stories that involve smoke in the Bible.

And what I wanted to do was, before we ever get to the firefighting season, before we get to the time of the year when there's a kind of smoke hanging in the air, I wanted to load our hearts up with some of these smoke stories if for nothing else, then we'll be able to believe God for power and for something different when we see smoke. I was just hoping maybe to get ahead of it and to change our associations with smoke. Let's see what God can do in smoke filled situations. And what we're going to do is we're going to start with a smoke story in the Bible where someone's life just fell to pieces. If anyone's life just went up in smoke right in front of them, it was the apostle Peter. And you probably know a little bit about him, but we're going to jump around in some of the gospel accounts, three out of the four of them, to get coverage on kind of one story, one episode in his life that happened. This is literally just one weekend of his life. And we're going to jump around.

So we're going to read a lot of scripture and you want to grab these references down, 'cause we'll be kind of flying fast and you can come back to him. And you're going to notice, we're not just going to stay with one, we're going to jump about. And that's intentional. And the reason we're going to do that is because, what you find in the four gospels, and if you're new to this whole journey of following Jesus, what we're reading about when we talk about the gospels, they're not four different stories, they're four accounts of the same story. And as such they represent what we get when we watch a movie. When you watch a movie you're getting camera angles covering the same scene. So it might be like, camera one, and then it's all of a sudden, it's camera two. And then you might go to the jib camera. And then after that, you're going to jump to the roam cam. So it's going to be that one. And then you're back to one and then you're at two and then you're at roam and then you're at jib. And meanwhile, most of our locations are watching a center shot, that is a shot where I'm head to toe in the center at that one. And meanwhile, everything's mixing and happening on the side screens where it's one or back to one, and then it's two and then it's jib and then it's roam, roam, roam, roam.

So what you're getting though is not a different sermon, you're getting the same sermon from different angles: that's Matthew, that's Mark, that's Luke, that's John. Like, why are there four gospels? Because a lot happened. And why do they sometimes contradict? They don't. It's just at times, what they saw is different to what someone else saw, because what was happening was out of the scene for them. And so you have the complimentary accounts. And even when they focus more on one thing, it just has more to do with what stuck out to them as they were talking about it, just like when you walk out of church, we could sent people to do survey and say, what was the most powerful to you? And someone might say, man, it was just that one song. And oh my gosh, every time it gets me in a hot mess and I can't wear mascara when that song is on. They should warn us. And someone else might go, man, that worship experience was all just about that one moment where I gave a significant gift in the offering. And because I carved out something that was a step of faith, that stuck out to me. And so they might talk to you a lot about that moment.

And to the person who's conducting the survey, seems like there was just one big offering or one big song. And I'm sure there's going to be one or two at least who're going to go, it was the message. It's not going to be that, it going to be the song. But there was point in the message where God just spoke to me. And it was like, no one else was in the room, it was just a word from God for me. And so the person who's asking the questions might be like, wow, it was just one big ole preach-athon, wasn't it? Which is true, well they're all true. So it was offering, it was a song, it was a message, that's the gospels. They're all giving different perspectives on it. Luke does this interview, that's how he got his information, and Matthew and John were both there. And what about Mark? Mark writes down Peter's account, the guy whose life went up in smoke one weekend. And so Mark is telling us: Marky Mark and the funky bunch, he got to interview Peter. And Peter's content is what primarily we have in Mark.

All right, so now that we're all caught up, we're going to jump in. I'm going to tell my sermon title though and I'm going to believe God that even just the title of my sermon is going to bless somebody. The title of this message is this, good night failure, good morning grace. Good night failure, good morning grace. Good night failure. Are you encouraged even just at the sound of that? Good night failure, good morning grace. When I say, good night failure, could you say, good morning grace at the top of your lungs? Come on. Good night failure. Good morning grace. That's happy. All right, Mark 14, this is happening at the last supper. It says this, Jesus turned to them, his disciples and said, hey guys, all of you will be made to stumble because of me this night. That's a heavy revelation.

So just a FYI, all of you are going to trip and fall tonight. All of you are going to fall tonight, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. Saying, when I get arrested, you all are going to run around like a snake wriggling in the ground with his head cut off. But after I've been raised, I'll go before you to Galilee. Peter said to him, Lord, even if all these idiots are made to stumble, not me. I will not be. Jesus said to him, glad you brought that up Peter, because as surely I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will actually deny me three times. So just so you know. Just put that on your calendar. Siri, add to my schedule, colossal mistake coming in the wee morning hours. Verse 31, but he spoke, Peter, more vehemently saying, no, if I have to die with you, I will not deny you. And once the disciples heard it, they all chimed in likewise. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're with Peter, you don't know us. We're legit, too legit to quit. We're not going to deny you.

So they go on from there, Jesus let's it ride. Peter, all the disciples are taken with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is arrested. And he gets taken to face his trials. But first, we know Peter made the promise. What was the promise? Anybody remember? Peter's promise was: even if all these guys deny, I'm ride or die, we are together in this. And if I have to die, so be it. So when the arrest party comes, there's hundreds of people involved: soldiers, there's religious leaders, there's of course, Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus with a kiss. And we know that the high priest sent his servant, who had been unarmed, who had been, it's the kid, this is the guy who pours water on the high priest' hands. So you got soldiers, you got the SWAT team, you have adults everywhere. Peter pulls his sword out, because he promised he was going to die defending Jesus, and he attacked the one person who we know for a fact was not armed, the only one who probably was a child there that day, he attacked a kid and cut his ear off, OK?

That's what Peter did. I'm going to die with you Jesus, right? And he cut the ear off of a little kid named Malchus. Jesus wasn't impressed. Jesus is in chains, he's been taken away and he sees Peter do this and he goes, no, no, not so much that. He says, Peter, I could call for 12 legions of angels and they would come and devour these and incinerate these soldiers with light from their eyes. I don't need you to cut his ear off, that is not helpful and you made a mess. So just, could you just give me a minute? So they unlock him and Jesus goes and touches the guy's ear and it heals. And He says, OK, very good. And please, go right ahead with your chains, please put them back on me. And Peter's just standing there with a bloody hand and flecks of the guy's ear on his wrist. And Jesus gets taken to the first of six trials that will all happen throughout the night.

Now notice in John 18 it says, and Simon Peter follow Jesus and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. This is funny to me, because this is John writing. And you know which disciple we're talking about? John. But he describes himself so low key. He's like, the disciple that was hanging out with Peter had connections. I don't want to brag, it was me and I had connections, so I got us in. The bouncer knew John, but not Peter, so John's kind of trying to rub it into his face a little bit. This is this John, Peter thing that always goes down. But Peter stood at the door outside, couldn't get in. The other disciple, not mentioning any names, but it was me, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door and brought Peter in. I'm with John. He gave him a shirt that said, I'm with John, and that's what he did.

So verse 17 says, then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, you are not also one of this man's disciples are you? He said, I am not. Now the question is, aren't you a Jesus disciple? And Peter says, never met the guy. Jesus who? I don't know any Jesus'. You sure you don't mean, Jesus, 'cause I know a guy named Jesus, but I don't know any Jesus'. Verse 18, now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coal stood there, for it was cold and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself. And then if we jump to verse 25, they said to him, people at the fire now, you are not also one of his disciples, are you? He denied it and said, no. Did I see you with Jesus one time when he was preaching that one sermon? No. No. Verse 26, one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, did I not see you in the garden with him? I never forget a face, especially the face of somebody who cut my cousin's ear off. It's like, this is really funny. Weren't you in the garden with him? Verse 26. Peter then denied again and immediately, a rooster crowed.

Now if we jumped over to Mark's POV, we don't have time to get into it, but Peter at this point began to curse that he didn't know Jesus. And the Bible says that he began to swear oaths. And if you really look into the language of what he was saying, it's different than just the equivalent of us swearing up and down, or I swear to my mother's grave, or I swear to God. Basically, what he was doing was he was trying to prove to them he wouldn't know Jesus, because he began to curse Jesus as though to say, would a disciple of His curse him like this? Would a disciple of Jesus talk like this? And though he begins to just rail on Jesus and curses about what Jesus isn't and who he isn't to say to them, a disciple of Jesus would never talk like this.

Now here's what's so heartbreaking about this. Jesus went to six different trials, but they were not all in the same locations. And he would get taken from trial to trial throughout the night as the religious leaders would make it a pretense of it all being legal. And certain protocols had to be observed in order for an execution to actually take place. And so as Peter is standing there, according to Mark's gospel, literally in the middle of showing and demonstrating how he was willing to talk so that they would know, there is no way this guy's a follower of Jesus, because look how he's speaking about him. Luke 22 says, the Lord turned at that moment being taken across the courtyard and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. So Peter went out and didn't just weep, he wept bitterly. That look in Jesus' eyes.

I once had a boss who was telling a great story. And the story was that he was informed of the power of a microphone in a very difficult way to his ego. He like myself was wearing a microphone that gives a receiver in the back pocket, or a transmitter in the back pocket and then a microphone that you wear on your face or on your shirt, and he was wearing it at church and they had a guest band in that day. They had brought a band in to do some music. And the band was up playing and the pastor had to introduce them. And so he got up on platform to say, hey, this band is whatever, whatever, from wherever, wherever and did that and then went off stage and was listening to them and they weren't playing so great. And so he kind of turned to his coworker and was just saying, this band is terrible, we're never bringing them back, I don't know what in the world. It's just, blah, blah, blah and just went on and on and on and on and on.

Now you think I'm going to tell you that their speakers were broadcasting what he was saying, but that's not what was happening, praise God. But the band was wearing in-ear monitors. And the in-ear monitors allowed them to hear themselves, but also the sound guy had mixed in the pastor's voice so that they could hear him introducing them. The problem was, the channel wasn't muted, so as he was offstage ranting and raving about how bad they were performing, that was what they were hearing as they were playing. You'd almost rather have the mic on in the bathroom. And when he told me that story, of course, the good on it was him saying, and that was when I learned the power of the tongue and we always are being heard by somebody even if it's by God and we always have to be careful what we say. What a great lesson, right?

So Peter here in this moment as he's captured like a deer in the headlights, having a conversation about how terrible Jesus is, and there of course, Jesus comes walking by just as the rooster starts crowing, which is exactly what had been said by Jesus just hours before as to what would take place. I think all of us can feel the battery acid that would be churning and the hopelessness and the despair and the, I'll never get back. Now fortunately, just a few days later, just a few days later, another story takes place where Peter who felt so low after this, he for sure was thinking, even if God could ever find a way to overlook this, there's no way I'm ever preaching again. I mean, I can't imagine a life where I could get through what I've gone through. So he turns to his friends and says, I'm going to go fish, I'm going to go fish. And that was, if you don't know, not just a leisure thing for him, that was a commercial occupation for him and more significantly, it was something Jesus called him away from when he was called to come preach the gospel full time.

And so for Peter to say, I'm going fishing was basically saying, I'm returning to my former life, I'm returning to my life, because there's no way I could ever show my face around here again. You have to let that sink in. As we now find Jesus showing up, look at this, verse 4, when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore, yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus, because he was trixie like that. Verse 5, Jesus said to them, children, have you any food? They answered him and said, no, and thanks for bringing it up. We have not caught any fish even though we have fished all night. And the more I fished, the more I realized they call it fishing for a reason, not catching, because it seems like it's predominantly a fishing thing, not a catching thing. But that's how their night went. It was just all fishing and no catching. And he said to them, verse 6: cast the net on the right side of the boat and you'll find some.

Now the funny thing about this is that this is literally a situation that took place before Jesus called Peter to preach. He did the exact same thing and Peter argued with him. Basically, it was like, I'm the pro, you're the pastor. I don't tell you how to read your sermons, you don't tell me which bait to use. But nevertheless, because you're like the Son of God, I'll humor you, and did it and caught the biggest catch of his life and literally, the nets began to break and he almost drowned to death because of this. So this is very funny that Jesus is replicating the call of Peter. So they cast and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. That was when that disciple whom Jesus loved, that's how John describes himself: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, right? He said to Peter, it's the Lord.

Now here's how you know that this is not made up, this is how it happened. It's the Lord. When Simon Peter heard it was Lord, he put on his outer garment for he had removed it, one translation says, 'cause he was fishing naked. I don't know how they roll back in that day, but man, that would be weird today. For he was naked and then plunged into the sea. Like how do you know that the Bible wasn't made up? He got dressed and you just see him in such a frenzy. He's like, I got to get my clothes on, I can't talk to Jesus naked. But then he jumps in the lake, like the boat is like heading to the edge of the lake. And you almost get the picture that he's swimming furiously. But then look at this, as soon as they had come to land, oh no, verse 8, rather, the other disciples came in a little boat though, for they were not far from land. So you get this picture of Peter swimming and the boat beats him there. They're like, dude, why didn't you stay? And he's like, well, you put your clothes on to jump in to swim.

See what I'm saying? This is a ridiculous sequence. Why did it get written this way? Because that's how it happened and John's making fun of him. John's going to make sure and include in his account Peter looking like a moron if he can. For they were not far from land, just 200 cubits. And they came dragging the net with fish. Verse 9, then as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there and fish laid on it and bread. Jesus said to them, bring me some of the fish, which you have just caught. Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land full of large fish. You're probably wondering how many fish there were. There were 153 of them. Thanks for the details boys. And although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, come and eat some breakfast, yet none of the disciples dared ask him, who are you, because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, serves them breakfast and likewise, the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these? Do you love me more than these. Now there's been sermons preached about how he was talking about the fish. Do you love me more than these fish? But the context is connection to Peter's bravado at the Last Supper. Even if all these morons betray you, I won't. So I think he's giving him a chance to set the record straight. Peter, you still think you love me more than anybody else does. You love me more than these. And 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.

And then he went on to say, most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself, you walked where you wished, you lived your life however you wanted. But when you're 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 two simple words: follow me. In the middle of the story, I think Peter if anybody ever has had reason to feel like their life was over, he would have felt that way. He would have felt that way. He would feel like there is no way I can get through this. I mean how do you ever see yourself preaching again a message about Jesus, whom hundreds of people who you had presumably preach to, have heard you swear up and down and curse the name and revile the name of the one that you would ever presume to preach about.

How do you get over something, how do you recover from something like that? How could you ever move through that? And yet, despite how much his life and calling and dreams all went up in smoke in front of his very eyes, by the end of Peter's life, he is once again doing exactly what Jesus said: feeding the lambs, preaching the Word, teaching the Word, feeding the sheep, tending the sheep, preaching the Word, preaching the Word. And he will stand up in that very same city of Jerusalem, surrounded by those very same people who saw him sin and he will point to Jesus the Savior and say, our God is great and here's what he'd done and here's who he is. And he will, who never saw himself doing that, thought that life was gone, it is vanished, it is ash. He will once again be standing up and strong and stable and able and be preaching the Word and doing what God intended for him to do. Not catching fish, but fishing for men and seeing thousands and thousands and thousands of people come to know Jesus. How is it possible that they anybody could overcome that?

Well, here's the reality: exactly the same thing that happened to Peter, we could see happen to us. And what I want to do is not just talk about exactly what God did in Peter's life or how that worked, I want to talk about some principles that we can learn from it. Because the truth is, if it can happen to Peter, it could happen to me. If it could happen to Peter, it could happen to you. What is that? We could do something, we could say something, we could go somewhere, we could end up with the reality of a mistake. We could we could end up one day waking up seeing that we've done something that we shouldn't have done, we've gone somewhere we shouldn't have gone, we've hurt someone that we wanted to always be kind to. And so what can we learn from this that will help us both prevent and, in the midst of the reality of mistakes, to rise up from the ashes?

I think there's four quick things, we could spend a lot more time here, but jot these four down. Number one: keep your guard up. Peter's story teaches us that we all need to keep our guard up. And I think that the mistakes, I've heard sermons about, don't warm yourself by the enemy's fire. I just don't see that as being the issue here, the problem here. I see the problem here as pride. The pride that manifested in Peter's heart when, here's Jesus literally going, heads up, it's going to be a tough night. Heads up, all of you are going to be scared. Heads up, all you're going to be running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. You're not going or what to do. And the pride that would cause Peter to correct Jesus, not so, Lord, you must not know me. Well, I don't know, I knit you in your mother's womb. You don't know me, you must not have known me. Yeah, I've known you very well, that's why I'm saying this. Well, if these other idiots fall, not me. And it's that pride.

And here's the thing, the Bible talks about, if you're standing, take heed lest you fall. It's hard to fall when you're falling. But the time to fall is when you're standing. So guess what, if you're standing today, you're perfectly poised to fall and so am I. And the idea that any of us would think, I'm immune to that, or I can never do that, or I could never see that happening. If we see people sinning and our response as a church, if our response is to say, that could never happen to me. If our immediate response is to rise up in judgment when someone, or some scandal, or we hear something, or, oh wow, they were living a liar lie, or they did this. If our immediate response is to go, I can't believe, or even worse, I always knew something was off with them. That's just such a pious and smug and ugly attitude and it is for sure not the broken heart of someone who recognizes that I could make a mistake, I could very well do that. Why I would never do something like that. Really?

If you were given the right series of compromises and choices and slowly but surely, you desensitized yourself. And like a compass that's around too much metal or interference, all of a sudden, you're off true north by even one degree, and over time, over time, over time, gradually, gradually, gradually, do a little of this, then you poised to a little of that. Any of us could get there. So our response should be: A, broken heart. Broken heart that someone is grieved. Our desire should be to see them restored, but secondly, we should realize, like, I need to keep my guard up. I need to keep my guard. I need to stay on my toes. In fact, one message, one translation of what Jesus said to Peter is exactly that. Simon, stay on your toes. Simon, stay on your toes. The devil is literally asking for you to sift you like wheat.

So bro, stay on your toes. This is not the time to get back on your heels and write a sermon about how great you are and how dumb everybody else is, this is the time for you to realize, I'm weak, I need your strength. You're right, when Jesus says, hey, watch out, in your marriage, this could happen, or in your financial dealings, this could happen. We should be going, oh my gosh, that's a real problem. I'm weak. God, give me strength. Let me do what I can to shore up my life, make sure the right voices, right people, right decisions that I'm calibrated in such a way when my guard is up. So that's to me the first and primary takeaway truth for all of us from here to avoid getting to a place where something goes up in smoke and now we're being fired because of this thing we stole, or did this over here, or just all of a sudden realizing, I'm at a place where my kids don't want to talk to me or whatever, because we've got to keep our guard up and be vigilant and be aware and to know that all of us could make serious decisions.

So that's the first thing. The second thing I see is, OK, so you didn't keep your guard up and you get knocked down, what do you do? Here you go, you get back up. You get back up. I want to tell you, I came to encourage somebody. If you've been knocked down today, I'm going to tell you, no, it's not going to be easy and no, it's not going to be instant, but the thing for you to do is to get back up. And it may be really hard, it may be, your legs aren't working so good, it may be a while before you're up all the way. I'm telling you, make that effort, take that first step, begin to lean up, begin to lean. I can't at all. Just begin to get back up, just to believe and to take steps towards what God wants you to do. Now question, what does God want me to do now? It's easy to live, I should've done this, I should've this. OK, you didn't. But here we are, this is now it. And the problem is so many of us get stuck in that mode, paralyzed, this happened to me, this was done to me, this is how it should have gone. And instead of saying, the better question is, what now? What God, do you want me to do now? And begin to make a move towards getting back up.

I just want to encourage you, no matter how many times have you been knocked down or what it's cost you, the thing to do is to get back up. When you fall you, you got to get back up. And when you think about God as your parent, it helps you to see that, because no parent sees their child fall and in their heart wants them to stay down. We're seeing even in our home a little illustration of this. Just the other day, our little son Linux, who is so cute, he's a little dude, he began to crawl for the very first time. And check this out, this is literally among his first movements in crawling ever. OK. Oh, buddy. But you know what? It wasn't like as his dad, it was like, stay down, son. How dare you think you can move. You fall, but didn't you know if you didn't have your hand out? No, our heart was to encourage him. And good news, there's a second video. This is the sequel. Good job, buddy. Come on, somebody. He got back up, took the next step, and that's exactly what we need to do, because your Father knew you were going to fall before you fell. He knew you were going to fall.

So I just want to encourage you, you feel so bad. Nothing you've ever done has surprised God. And you know what? I knew Linux was going to fall eventually. I knew eventually, it wasn't like, you better get up and run a marathon, buddy. It's like, we knew he was going to fall and we also knew he was going to get back up. And that was our heart as well. And that was God's heart for Peter. In fact you see this. When He told him he was going to fall, he said this, I've prayed for you that you shouldn't fall. But when you have returned, that you would strengthen your brethren. He didn't just predict his failure, he predicted his recovery. Even right back there, he wanted him to hear this. I'm predicting you're going to fall, but when you get back up, you're going to strengthen your brethren. I'm going to use you to do great things.

So, right now, you're feeling like, I can't get back up. But He knew you were going to fall and He already knows how He wants to use you and what it's going to be like to work in your life once you've been strengthened. And so don't just stay down. I'm not saying, it's all going to be perfect or all be like it was before. But what it can be is something new. What it can be is something beautiful. And what it can be is eventually something that you look down and you love and you see Him bringing you into that broad place that He wants for you. So what do you do once you fallen and you've go back up? Well, you should fight really hard to not get tied up. So jot this down, don't get tied up. So if he sets you free and moves you forward again and now you're running again, what should be your focus? To not get tied up. And what's the easiest way to get tied up? Here's the answer: it's to look around to those around you. To look around to those around you and to put yourself in the place of being the critic of what God does or doesn't do for somebody else. The grace he gives her doesn't give to somebody else.

What does that look like? Well, here's what looks like: Jesus to Peter, right, remember, we just read a little bit ago. Jesus to Peter: so hey, bro, I've got a plan for you. Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, tend my sheep, you're going to preach, you're getting back in the game, bro, back in the game. And it's going to be tough, because here's the deal: at the end of your life, it's going to lead to you being put to death. And this is how I want you to glorify me. I want you to glorify me by actually, you're going to be persecuted for your faith and eventually end up being crucified as a follower. And church history records that's exactly what happened. So check this out. The Bible tells us that Peter took this in, had been restored, had been given a second chance. But here's what it's going to look like.

And as he takes it all, a question comes up to his mind, so he raises his hand and goes, that sounds great, Jesus, but just one question. Here's the question I have for you, turned around, saw the disciple who Jesus loved, that's John, and said this, look at the next verse, said this: what about this man? It's cool that's what you want from me, but what about him? What are you going to do for John? Before I say yes to what you're going to do through me, what are you going to do with him? And we could pile on Peter, but the truth is, so many of us lived there. God gives you some great call, God gives you a second chance, God gives you brand new life and you're cool with all that so long as you think it's as good or better than what someone else gets, someone else's situation. The easiest way to get tied up running your race is to put yourself in someone else's lane and to wonder what they're being given.

And the best place to be is the place where our eyes are only and ever on Jesus and we're not asking the question, what grace have you given someone else and are they getting something better than me? But that like Hebrews 12 says, we run this race of faith not looking around to each other. But look what Hebrews 12 says, we should run this race of faith throwing down sin that holds to us tightly, running our race marked out for us. And then look at the next part, keep looking to Jesus, the author of faith who is also the one that's going to make it perfect. So let's not get into the place of not appreciating the grace we've been given, because we're inspecting the grace that someone else has been given. Did they get more, did they get this. It's like, dud, you didn't deserve anything, and you've been given a new life and you've been given a new heart and you've been given, don't start now criticizing and critiquing and putting yourself in the place of inspecting what someone else has been given.

The easiest thing to do once you're given grace is to get tied up to where you can't enjoy that grace, because you're looking around and inspecting everyone else's grace. And if you don't believe me, then just read the parable in the New Testament about the guy who's been forgiven a great debt, but then began to balk at someone who owed him something small and how seriously Jesus took that. So just keep on looking at Jesus. And as you're looking at Him and remembering that He gave you everything, He gave you life, He gave you a brand new heart, just stay there with your eyes on Jesus. Don't get tied up. There's a fourth and final and the last thing I want you to jot down from this story of Peter's life going up into smoke one day is that, you've got to hold your head up. You've been knocked down and you're getting back up. And now you're running your race not looking around, you're looking at Jesus. As you do so, you can hold your head up.

Now I want to kind of separate the forgiveness aspect from the shame aspect. I think all of us deep down, we believe that God can forgive us, but I think sometimes, what we have a hard time is knowing what to do with the shame feelings that we feel over the things that we've done and how bad we feel. But to really get this, we need to kind of make sure we have this all right in our heads of what Jesus was intentional about doing. The Bible says that when Peter denied Jesus, he did so in front of a coal of fires. That was the fire made out of different coals, right? Make sure I'm correct here. I think that the text actually says, look at it right here in John's gospel. It says that the servants had made a fire of coals. Why? Well, it was cold. And so Peter who had just gotten in under John's ID badge, he stands there warming himself by the fire. Now what do you smell when you're warming your hands by a fire? Smoke. Now what is the circumstances under which Peter was restored? Well, the Bible says, look at this, this is also John's gospel, chapter 21, Jesus appeared to them by the Sea of Galilee. When they came out of the boat, they saw a fire of coals. And Jesus served them all breakfast as they warmed their hands standing by a fire.

And Jesus had three questions for Peter: do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? Once, twice, thrice. Why? Because it was not once, it was not twice, it was three times, with the smell of smoke in his nostrils, that Jesus was denied and cursed and renounced by Peter. And Jesus wanted Peter to have a different kind of association to the smell of smoke than what happened on the day of his biggest failure. You see, church history tells us that Peter would for the rest of his life tear up every time he ever heard a rooster crow. The sound of the rooster would always be just the symbol of sadness for him. But what is so beautiful is that we know that more powerful than sound or sight is smell. You see your olfactory nerve runs right by your amygdala, which is the part of the brain that processes memory and emotion. And that's why, when you smell something, it can just take you back. It can just take you back and you're all of a sudden there again.

I think that Jesus knew that for the rest of Peter's life, he would be tempted to live in a place where every campfire, every bonfire, every time he smelt smoke, he would be instantly standing there cussing Jesus out, telling a little girl, I've never met Him, I would never follow Him, I would never follow Jesus. And he wanted instead, the smell of smoke wafting up into his nostrils to be accompanied by the memory of Jesus' loving eyes saying, do you love me? Come on, I'm not done with you? Do you love me? Come on, let's go, let's go. You took a couple of shots, get back up. Come on, Peter, get back up. I love you, I got a plan for you, I'm not done with you, you're my guy, I'm going to put my Spirit in you, I'm to give you strength, you're going to preach the Word, I've got plans for your life. Come on, Peter, smell in. And now Peter could stand there by the fire and have it no longer be marked by the bitter toxic smell of his shame, but have it instead be associated with the power of a grace that's not based on his performance, but rather in fact is based on what Jesus did on the cross.

And so what of the tears to the end of his life with Jesus and the rooster? I think that initially it was just a pang of sadness and a twinge of sadness, but I think eventually, it began to be tears of power and tears of strength and tears of joy as he remembered the cock-a-doodle-doo sound effect of Jesus' new calling on his life to rise up into all that Jesus had for him. Why is it, you think, that verse 12, Jesus did this all at a meal where He had said to them, come and eat breakfast? Because Jesus was saying, good night to all of Peter's failure and saying good morning to some brand new grace. And I came to church to ask you the question, are you eating the most important meal of the day? It's grace, it's the fact that it's not based on you. God's righteousness get's placed on you when you believe in Jesus.

And God is saying to your heart this week: good night failure, good morning grace. Good night to the failure of trying to measure up and be enough and be perfect and have it all together and good morning to the grace that says, God, here am I with my mistakes. Here am I with my failure. Here am I, I don't deserve you, I can't earn this, but I love you and I need you and I receive you and I accept you. And that kind of living taps you into the power of weeping that may endure for a night, but joy that comes in the morning and a new day is dawning over you. Come on, celebrate if you believe it. And I think for all of us, that's the place that we need to be is the place that we're like Peter, we're no longer walking confidently in our ability. But with our heads held high, we're remembering that it's not about us. And that because we're weak, He is strong. And that He didn't pick us for our strengths, He picked us because of what it would look like to showcase His strength in our weak hands. And that puts us in the place where God can do great things to change the world.

And Peter went on to preach and to see thousands converted into all that God had in His heart for him. And he died just as Jesus said, crucified, just as Jesus said, his hands spread out. And I love so much that Peter, here's a changed man, he had one last request before he died, and that his cross would be turned upside down so that he would not die in the exact same manner of Jesus. Gone was the arrogance, gone was the pride, replaced with the tenderness of love and admiration for Jesus who had brought him up from the ashes and given him a brand new life. And that's exactly what God can do for you. I don't care where you've been or what you've done, this is a new day for you. All of us praying, every single person all across our church, heads bowed, eyes closed. If you're here and you need to receive that grace of God that can change you and save you, I'm asking the question: have you felt like, there's been just mistakes, there's been brokenness, there's been difficulties and you sense God just calling you to rise up and to walk on shaky legs?

I don't know what part of your life has been difficult, maybe it's in a friendship, maybe something a work. Whatever it is, if you would just say, I need to receive that grace, or maybe you're just looking more at yourself and you need to get your eyes back on God. And I ask every location, you just raise your hand up saying, this is my day, this is my day to not walk out of my achievement, my accomplishments, but to just rely on that grace of God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Give me strength and power by your spirit. You can put your hands down. I want to give another invitation. This goes out to anybody here this weekend. And you need to give your heart to Jesus and trust in Him. The Bible says that all of us are separated from God by our sins and we can't fix ourselves any more than we could give ourselves open heart surgery or call ourselves out of a grave. There's a deadness that comes with sin. But Jesus can save you, that's why he died on the cross and rose from the dead.

And if you're here this week at our church and you're ready to trust Him for salvation and new life, I'm going to ask that you would pray this prayer with me. I'm going to pray a prayer, just a short simple prayer and I want you to pray it out loud after me and Jesus will hear you and he'll come into your heart and life. I'm going to ask the church family to pray it with you to show that we're all with you in this decision. Say this, Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. I'm broken and lost. Please come into my heart, make me new, I give my life to you. With everyone still praying, eyes closed, but hearts open. If you just prayed that prayer giving your heart to Jesus, I'm going to count to three. When I get to three, every location, church online, podcast, I want you to raise your hand up in the air, your way of saying, I'm giving my heart to Jesus, this is real for me, this is my decision. When I get to three to shoot your hand up. One, two, three. Come on, hands up all across the church. Thank you, Jesus. Thank You, God for life change.
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