Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lent 2: Avoiding the Peter Problem

Avoiding the Peter Problem

Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, "Look, I'm going to leave. And while I'm gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I'm away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip." Everyone agrees.

He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess--weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, "What happened? Didn't you get my letters?"
You say, "Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We've even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have 'letter study' every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters." I think the president would then ask, "But what did you do about my instructions?" And, no doubt the employees would respond, "Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!

• I wonder how many of you have had the Peter problem?
• During Lent, one of the issues we encounter is our relationship to God’s Word—the Scriptures. Will we read it? Will we hear it and become doers? Peter had a problem with the words of Jesus.
• Let’s take a closer look.

Mark 8:31-38

31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.


• For Peter—he heard the words Jesus was saying. Jesus was teaching that the cross and resurrection were the methods God had chosen to bring spiritual salvation to the world.
• The idea of a suffering savior offended… He thought Jesus should do it differently.
• Jesus is already rejected by the religious leaders--so Peter piles on rejecting the cross.
• Today--What words of God offend you? In our day—life, family, morality, intelligent design, some other doctrine or requirement to be a Christian.
• Peter rebukes God! Have you ever rebuked God? Why did you make it this way?
• Peter’s pride was saying he thought he knew better than God. The Peter problem is when your personal ego causes you to reject God’s Word and think you know better than God.


33But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

• Peter was thinking like the world which put him in league with Satan’s plan.
• In the wilderness temptations, Satan offered Jesus the Kingdoms of the world if he would turn away from God the Father’s plan for him to suffer as the sacrificial lamb to atone for sin.
• Now Peter is tempting him to do the same thing!
• God’s Word is usually simple and as to understand—don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat on your spouse, all have sinned and the paycheck you get for working for sin is eternal death, you must be born again if you want to go to heaven. Straightforward…
• Jesus was giving the straight Gospel to his disciples—he will die in our place as an innocent victim to remove the guilt of sin from us, and then he will rise again 3 days later—Good Friday > Easter
• What was Peter’s response to the Gospel? No, that’s not the Gospel! I have a better plan.
• So many have a better plan. If we can just elect right people to government and take over…
• How about—forget about sin, let’s just all get along, sing kumbaya, make smores > universalism
• Then there are all kinds of other religious ideas, philosophies, etc> No sin, cross, resurrection.
• Jesus says those kinds of ideas are men’s ways and not God’s ways. God has one way.
• God came from heaven to earth, became fully a man while remaining fully God, loved us enough to teach us the way to eternal life >
o Only perfect obedience merits eternal life. Sin is rejecting God thinking you know better. Salvation occurs when the perfect life Jesus lived is credited to your account…
o Sin separates from God and each other and is the cause of all forms of death—physical, spiritual, relational, financial, political, etc. No sin can enter heaven.
o Only an innocent could offer to take the place of a guilty party and pay the debt of sin.
o Jesus did just that for us on Good Friday. He took the debt of sin we owed God, and paid it to clear our ledger before God. So the cross profited us eternal life.
o Peter was having none of this silliness.
• What do you think about the Gospel? Are you an accepter or rejecter?


34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” – NKJV

• Peter and the crowds are now told the Gospel in straight language. All men are like Peter so we all need it spelled out then we need to make a decision.
• If you want to be a Jesus follower > Deny self—stop living selfishly > Take up the cross in your life
o Join the fight against sin > Become part of restoring the world to what God intended…
• This is a call to stop thinking like the world > Stop acting like the world > Having worldly goals
• The world is out for itself, it wants power, riches, pleasure, success, ease
• Jesus says there is a higher goal in life—your soul.
• Being focused only on the world’s goals causes people to lose their own soul by exchanging the less important for the more important.
• What is your price? At what point will you trade in God for something selfish or a worldly payout?
• We think we’ve got the life when we get the houses, cars, portfolios, clothes, status, power, fame—
• Whatever we think is most important—but lose our marriage, our kids, or don’t have time for life the way God has it ordered.
o Begin your week in worship—thanking God for life. Life is more than work and play.
o Have friendships with God’s people who will support you in life and help you stay on the right path, a pastor a guide and doctor of the soul.
• So for all of us with the Peter problem, and we all have it—the message is this:
• Peter’s problem was he thought he knew more than God, he had a better plan, a better way.
• Today began with a story. God has given us instructions and written us letters to tell us what to do till he comes to take us to be with him in heaven.
• Start reading the letters. Then, don’t just read the letters, do what they say. In this season of Lent, let’s really start living the Christian life our The Gospel calls us to hear, read, obey, and do…
• Where in your life do think you know better than doing what God’s Word says?
• Where do you think you know better than God? Where do you think the Bible doesn’t apply to you but everyone else? Where you think you can be like Peter and tell Jesus how to run things?
• That is the place in your life where the Peter Problem is infecting you. As doctor of souls, my job is to get you spiritually healthy and keep you that way.
• When we have the Peter Problem, Jesus made the first diagnosis of its cause—we have our mind set on the things of the world and not on the things of God.
• The treatment plan is this—stop living selfishly in pride thinking you know better than God, start and knowing doing God’s Word, kill your sins, and follow the Jesus way of life.
• ON Good Friday this year, we can take up the cross and die to living selfishly. We can strop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Amen.

Lent 1: The Bible and Temptation

Lent 1


• The readings for today highlight two main themes: Baptism and temptation

Reading 1: Noah—Imagine God this today! Movie clip 1 Evan Almighty

• God baptized the world in judgment with 40 days and nights of rain—why?
o To cleanse the world that had become as it says in Gen. 6 “Only evil all the time.”
• Noah was a preacher calling people to repent before the judgment came. Did people believe him?
o He was mocked and people did not believe a judgment would come—till it came.
• When the judgment came, what protected Noah? What protects us?
o The ark of salvation protected Noah and his family because they believed and obeyed God to build the ark. Even though they went through the judgment they not judged.
• Baptism separates us from the world. Just as the eight souls aboard the Ark were saved through water, believing God’s Word and being baptized is what saves us from the coming judgment.
o After the baptism of the world, God gave Noah a new covenant and a new beginning.
o Noah was a type of new Adam. God gave the world a new beginning.
• Applications for us:

1. The word LENT = Anglo Saxon LENCTEN means spring—the time when days lengthen.
2. Think of Lent God’s spring cleaning of His house.
3. History shows us that since the times of the apostles, The Church has made the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday a time of fasting, training new converts for baptism, and renewing baptism especially for those who have fallen away from God and Church.
3. On Easter, after 40 days and nights of Lent, the Church still baptizes new converts at the Great Vigil of Easter, and renews the baptisms of the already converted.
• Lent is a time to join God in cleaning our spiritual house of sin and spiritual clutter.
• Lent is a time to reach out to others like Noah did with the message of salvation.
• Lent is a time for people who have never believed God to come into the ark of salvation.

READING #2: Jesus

12Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. 14Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

• This passage touches on several important things.

1. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness desert for 40 days where he dealt with temptations from the Devil. Sometimes we think God is not with us in wilderness times. Most of the time, it is he who has taken us there.

Movie Clip: From Evan Almighty. Sometimes we miss how God is working through allowing us to be tempted.

• By driving Jesus into the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was giving Jesus the opportunity to show that no matter what temptations would come, he would be faithful and could be trusted.
Wilderness> Symbol of testing faithfulness to God > Desert, dry, barren, exposure to danger

• Every year, Lent is that 40 day period where the Holy Spirit pushes us to deal with our inner life.
• I have heard Christians say they had more difficulty with temptation after Christ than they had before Christ. Why is this?
• Before Christ you did what pleased you. After Christ you desire to be pleasing to the Lord.
• Temptations are Satan’s way of trying to get you to share in the world’s rebellion against God.
• Temptations are the Holy Spirit’s way of leading you to be faithful and showing you can be trusted.
• Jesus overcame evil with good. When tempted, he did good by being faithful and not sinning.
• The Holy Spirit pushed Jesus into the wilderness experience to undergo trial and temptation, and He will do the same in our lives for this reason:

In 1 John 2:12-17 St. John tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.”

• The Holy Spirit wants us to become committed to doing the will of God so we can abide in God’s house forever.
• As it was in the days of Noah, it still, is today. We live in a world that loves evil and rejects God.
• St. John says the world and its lusts will pass away, but HE WHO DOES THE WILL OF GOD WILL LIVE FOREVER.

2. After overcoming temptations Jesus was ready to emerge from the wilderness and preach to others the Gospel of the Kingdom—repent and believe.

• In the wilderness, Jesus overcame the lusts and temptations the Devil offers in this world.
• That gave him power to share the Good News with others. What is the good news?
• You can be saved like Noah. God is offering everyone who will repent and believe a new life and a new beginning free from the dirt that makes us feel so dirty inside, so miserable, lonely, and empty in this life.
• During the 40 days of Lent, two main questions: Do I need to repent? Do I really believe?
• Repent = stop, take a look at your life to see if you are heading the right way, and turn around if you got going the wrong way.
o Are you being faithful to God or are you giving in to temptation?
o You can change you mind and come into the ark. If you have never believed in God you can get baptized and be saved from judgment.
o For believers--Are you in the ark or have you jumped overboard back into the sea of sin
o If yes—then change your mind now and turn back to God and renew your baptism.
• Believe = An act of trusting in God to guide your life.
o Noah had to build an ark. He trusted God’s Word that was guiding his life, and that is what saved him.
o Jesus trusted in God’s Word and overcame Satan by saying it is written every time he was tempted.


1. Today we have heard that Lent is a 40 day time of spring cleaning. It is a time to get our spiritual lives cleaned up and in order.

2. We have heard that Lent is a time when the Holy Spirit give us the opportunity to choose that we will be faithful to God even when we are presented with temptations.

3. Faithfulness is found in two words: Repent = change you mind and turn your life in a new direction, and believe = trust God to guide your life.

4. Those who repent and believe get baptized in water. Baptism cleanses away the inner dirt and guilt of evil in our lives and makes us feel clean. We get a new beginning and a new life.

5. Overcoming gives you power to share the Good News with others.


• My prayer is like Jesus came out of the wilderness in power to share the Gospel with others
• I pray God will lead you through the 40 day Lent wilderness and you will show yourself faithful and emerge in power with a message that God wants