Rock of Rages: Why Peter’s Denial Was a Necessary Trial

Passage: Mark 14:26-31 (ESV); Mark 14:66-72 (ESV)

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Peter Denies Jesus

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed.69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

It’s a hard scene to process.

Peter. The Rock. Cracking under pressure.

The Cross set before His Master, a sliver in the back of his mind.

Never would he fall astray; never would he run away. That was Peter. Or rather that was going to be Peter.

But before the Shepherd could be battered, the sheep of the flock would soon be scattered. And it’s here where despite our cringes, we must appreciate this sequence: The ultimate Shepherd grooming his undershepherd through a defining moment of weakness. A prophecy centuries in the making (Zechariah 7:13) now an emerging hallmark of humility for the early church to thrive on. The man in the middle?

The Rock. The epitome of moniker though something far greater. You see, ‘The Rock’ was not just a designated nickname but the proof of Christ’s identity realized. One could say the greatest insight received by man came in Mark 8:29 when Peter, the Rock, confessed Jesus as cornerstone – the Son of the Living God.

Still, as keen as this inspiration was, the symmetry of it could not have occurred without an epic fail. For before Peter could sleep on his call to keep active watch at Gethsemane, he had to first confront and fall to a fear of abandonment. Without this fear, Peter’s resolve could not have been tested – a paradox considering a less distracted Peter would have meant more fervent prayer during Jesus’ final hours.

Granted, that’s the beauty of Jesus’ perfect love in this passage. For Jesus knew a humbling of Peter ahead of His death was necessary to calibrate his boasting to the power he’d rightfully appropriated. No matter how much Peter confessed his devotion, he had to first wrestle with the fragility of his hope before he could shepherd a flock with a more mature version. How incredible it is to consider Jesus, the weight of the world on His shoulders, was working all this for good before the good could be known and shared.

As for us, no matter how long we’ve walked with God, we’ve all denied Jesus at one point or another. And while we have the Holy Spirit to act as our rooster in those times, let’s not take for granted the ministry of reconciliation in those instances. The sting of sin may prick our hearts but in a way that’s why Jesus came to die in the first place: To not only liberate us from captivity but awaken and sharpen us to higher faith.

Accordingly, as we enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving this Easter weekend, may our denials become trials intended for glory. You may feel discouraged about your shortcomings, but this doesn’t mean you have to bask in them. Rather repent, receive God’s grace afresh and anew, and feed His sheep. After all, Christ didn’t take the nails to deliver us from disappointment but to free us into intimacy through the growing pains of life.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Christianity.com

Pressed But Not Crushed: A Study on 2 Chronicles 20

If you know me, you know I’m not into politics. 

I don’t emotionally invest in global events. I don’t turn on the news unless I have to. 

And for good reason: Growing up, not only did the evening news proceed family dinners but often added stress to the dog days of school. Like most, I could appreciate the voice of Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw on a Taco Tuesday. But given the choice, younger me would rather comb through a newspaper by a fireplace than channel-flip through the five stages of grief. 

Fast-forward to today and the bombardment of information is at a fever pitch. Precipitating our lives is a paradox full of silent scrolls, constant noise, and souls desperate to press ‘mute’ on what they can’t resist: The world at their fingertips. I know I’ve been there and am still there in some ways. After all, the quest for a distraction-less life will always be an uphill battle.

But I suppose that’s why I writing this: To remind us how in all things, there’s a right way to stand, a right way to contend, and a right way to honor.

Even when the news is disturbing, there are ways to walk in our priestly identity as messengers with purposed mouthpieces. The million-dollar question is: What are the ways and how do we walk them when the world around us is falling apart?

To find out, let’s turn to 2 Chronicles 20 and dive right in…

1) The Way to Stand

Imagine waking up to two powerful armies raging war against you. The future of a reformed country, not to mention your life, hanging in the balance. I don’t care what side of the bed you rise from. There’s no coffee in the world strong enough to offset that brutal awakening. 

Yet, for our protagonist, Jehoshaphat – a devout, God-fearing king, that’s exactly where he finds himself. Contending with a stirred Judean ecosystem (thanks to his efforts in ch. 19*), the foreign foundation is fragile. The Moabites are ticked. The Ammonites are incensed. And the result is v. 2

Then it was reported to Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude has come against you from beyond the [Dead] Sea, out of Aram (Syria); and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is, Engedi).”

Hearing this news, Jehoshaphat could have easily yielded to fear and doubt. After all, when you learn a nation’s fate is at stake, staying calm can seem like a tall order.

However, it’s here where Jehoshaphat makes a critical decision: Rather than panic into premature prayer, he seeks the Lord with determination, proclaims a fast and a gathering for His people to do the same (v. 4), and inspires unity ahead of the victory to come. 

Following his prayer in v. 5-12, we see the evidence of Jehoshaphat’s faith through the response of his people (v. 13-14). Not only do they stand and receive from the Lord but discern God’s battleplan through worship and thanksgiving. With corporate praise an official banner, Jehoshaphat’s army charges into war with confidence and is delivered from the men of Ammon and Moab – a thorough breakthrough epitomized in v. 21:

Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Sound familiar? I didn’t think so.

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can blend courage with community and perceive conflict without overreacting. Especially in trials and tribulations, the way to stand is never an individual exercise. If you want to lead, you must first learn to lean, dependently with God first, interdependently with people second. 

2) The Way to Contend 

Going back to Jehoshaphat’s prayer

And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying,  ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’  And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

…the structure is notable for a couple reasons. 

  1. Before Jehoshaphat requests of God, He acknowledges who God is. More specifically, Jehoshaphat declares God’s sovereignty and strength into his situation (v. 5-6) and in humility recognizes God’s dominion as infinitely greater than his.  
  2. While Jehoshaphat believes God will be faithful, He praises God for having been faithful (v. 7). This flavor of hope not only allows Jehoshaphat to contend through worship and prayer but anchors his trust in God’s character as opposed to his track record. 
  3. Jehoshaphat pleads in meekness and transparency. He knows God is aware of what’s going on but is still explicit in conveying his concern. To the extent Jehoshaphat resists fear, to that extent he spells it out knowing he has nothing to lose being honest with God.
  4. Jehoshaphat concludes his prayer with a timeless mic-drop: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” With past victories in tact, Jehoshaphat could have easily relied on winning formulas, proven communication skills, even ally relationships. Instead, he boldly professes his weakness and seals his petition in a spirit of expectancy knowing this prayer was key to helping his people stand firm. 

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can surrender to God ahead of evil’s surrender to Christ in us. When you feel overwhelmed by clients, colleagues, and/or workload, don’t deny your helplessness but rejoice in the fact you can call on God to go before you.

3) The Way to Honor

While much attention is given to Jehoshaphat’s prayer and victory in 2 Chronicles 20, the epilogue is also worth noting. For starters, Jehoshaphat’s prioritization of consecration over celebration (v. 26) is indicative of a leader who cited his honor correctly. Had Jehoshaphat’s pride surfaced, he could have fallen victim to the same vice he was rebuked for in chapter 19. Yet, as we find, rather than fall into idolatry, Jehoshaphat maintains holy reference by blessing the Lord with his troops. The spoils of war now altars of gratitude with legacy ties to this day. 

After exalting God on site, Jehoshaphat and his men return to Jerusalem to commemorate their freedom (v. 27-30):

Then they returned to Jerusalem with joy, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, led by Jehoshaphat, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets to the house (temple) of the Lord. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest on all sides.”

This conclusion tells me two things: 

  1. As an appointed leader, Jehoshaphat accepted conflict with courage, went into battle with assurance, and conquered his enemies with humility.
  2. As an anointed leader, Jehoshaphat accomplished these things in the joy and fear of the Lord.  

Essentially, whatever Jehoshaphat set his mind to, it prospered because he cared more about what God said than anything else. Like today, the man encountered much in terms of noise and despair; however, as a man of valor, he kept his eye on the prize at all times – never wavering to ego, consensus or past strongholds. As such, it’s no surprise the rest of Jehoshaphat’s reign was marked by peace, tranquility, and rest. 

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can honor God through victory and achievement. While celebrations have their place, remember gratitude must dictate your gladness not the other way around. If you desire to serve the Lord in holy fear, start with joy rooted in thanksgiving.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Fortifying cities from idolatry towards holy reverence

Cover photo creds: Pinterest

The Silver Linings of 2021

I’ll be honest: There’s a lot on my mind and chest right now.

Where to start, where to begin…

To be fair, I’m sure the same could be said about you. After the last year’s whirlwind, it makes sense to hope 2020 is true to its name: In focus and further distanced in the rear-view mirror.

Yet, as we embark on a fresh journey in this brave, new world, there’s one step we must take before the next. One step to fuel them all.  That step…is to stop.

That’s right. Before we step into 2021, we must first stop and consider where we’ve been and where we’re…God is taking us. However, to do this in full, not only must we surrender our desire to change on our terms but be willing to pray for what we press into.

For instance, we can pray for wisdom and strength to be different, to be better…but unless we posture our hearts to receive from God, our expectations will not calibrate to His nature.

As such, I submit we enter into the hope of 2021 with the following three points in mind. Granted, there will be more we discuss in the coming months. For now, let’s start with this trio and see where our dialogue takes us.

Ready, set, let’s go…

  1. Remember Your Aim

We are a people who tend to bite off more than we can chew. Our hearts may desire change but this doesn’t mean they desire what’s best and/or know the proper portions. Left to our own devices, we often crave the quickest road to recovery, reward, and large-scale transformation; however, as the Word attests, progress isn’t achieved by overcommitting to paths we plan but is accomplished through small steps we take with God each day (see Psalms 37:23, Proverbs 16:9; more on this in a moment).

As the Spirit confirmed in my heart last week, God’s best can’t always be measured by magnitude but can always be maximized by attitude. Accordingly, if you reframe your perspective to view change through this mindset, not only will you better scale your goals upfront but seize the strength to scale them when you confront.

Bottom line: Small and steady wins the race. Remember your aim is Jesus, not winning the world to Him. Consider your goals and invite the Lord to help you scale them. After all, you cannot grow if you do not yield and aim for purity in your maturity. As you pray into 2021, understand the road forward and onward is always one step at a time.

2. Delight in the Journey

In recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how central joy is to following Jesus. If we long to live as Christ, then we will take pleasure in what tethers us to His perfect will. In Scripture, we find several phrases that capture this reality…

“I know also, my God, that You test the heart and delight in uprightness and integrity. In the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. So now with joy I have seen Your people who are present here, make their offerings willingly and freely to You.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:17 (AMP)

“Finally, my fellow believers, continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you. Therefore, my fellow believers, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown [my wreath of victory], in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” ~ Philippians 3:1; 4:1 (AMP)

“…nevertheless I am with you in spirit, delighted to see your good discipline [as you stand shoulder to shoulder and form a solid front] and to see the stability of your faith in Christ [your steadfast reliance on Him and your unwavering confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].” ~ Colossians 2:5 (AMP)

…but perhaps the one that strikes me most candidly is: Delight in God’s journey.

Again, I go back to Psalms 37:23: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord who takes delight in His journey” which fittingly aligns with Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps.”

This tells me two things:

  1. How God directs is meant to prompt us to His presence.
  2. What God establishes is meant to be a source of contagious joy and awe.

Consider this flashback from two years ago…

Written January 13, 2019

So today I’m walkin’ to work basking in the joy of winter feeling like winter when out of the corner of my ear, I hear ‘Joy to the World’ playing from a nearby corner street music station. At first, I’m like, ‘December is over. No more Christmas music!’ But almost instantly I hear that still, small voice whispering, ‘But Cam. Why not repeat the sounding joy?’

Of course, what can I say to that? Notes and lyrics that seem out of place by cultural timelines should always be in place by daily surrender. Better put, there’s a reason why certain Christmas songs like, ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Joy to the World’ are the only ones that can cure Everly’s nocturnal cries. Seriously, Caeden will start singing his ‘Fa, la, la, la’s’…and even if it’s a few minutes, all is calm and bright in the world.

As you walk with God, receive the practical, prudent reminders of His goodness, peace, and joy even they momentarily disagree with the senses.

Now, I know this may seem frivolous against the backdrop of recent political/social tension; however, we must not downplay delighting in the simple and spontaneous. For in this day, we may feel like we’re walking on eggshells more than sunshine…like we’re sinking in the decay around us. But this doesn’t mean we can’t take pleasure and hold of God’s best or stand in awe of what He has and continually gives.

Especially in seasons of turmoil and transition, our call is to participate in the divine and inspire likewise. While it’s okay to desire change, individually and corporately, don’t let this distract you from pointing people to Jesus as you work, as you wait, and as you champion appointed causes for such a time as this.

Bottom line: As you consider your 2021 riskolutions, make sure to take joy in God’s purposes and declare thanksgiving into places of doubt and uncertainty. Even in difficult situations, remember God only allows us to encounter what He allows (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13). Whatever we face this year, know it doesn’t surprise God (Jeremiah 33:3) and He will provide a way before, for, and through us.

3. Persevere with Patience

No question, 2020 compelled many to higher levels of dependence with endurance and perseverance atop of the list. Yet, before we contrast 2020 to 2021, we should note endurance and perseverance are not the same things.

For example, endurance is staying the course when you’re tempted to give up; perseverance is leveling up when you’re tempted to get down. As I told LEGACYouth back in the day, endurance says ‘yes’; perseverance says ‘more’, but it all comes back to who we adore.

Consequently, while 2020 may have been a year of endurance and exposure for the church, I submit the pathway for 2021 is as follows: Perseverance, patience, perspective, and presence.

In other words, as we patiently await for the seas to calm, let’s persevere into God’s presence to gain His perspective on matters of culture, politics, and benevolence without yielding to churchspeak and hearsay. As the doxology of Jude reminds us…

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:17-25 (ESV)

Bottom line: As you endure with expectation and persevere in joy, cultivate intimacy. Don’t just engage the ways of God; engage God! Reference Him in what you can and can’t understand…when the waves of doubt cloud your mind. Embrace discovery through seeking and pondering. And dare to seek His footsteps and follow them to clarity.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Construction Executive

3 Ways to Be In Christ at Work (Part 2)

After discussing two ways we can vocationally abide in Christ in my last post, I want to conclude with one final thought…

…because we are in Christ, we have the mind of Christ and with it, we can see the Cross as an opportunity to go weak into Jesus.

As mentioned in ‘part 1‘, the Cross not only captures total weakness but is a way of life we approach God and minister to others. By daily recognizing our helplessness in light of Christ’s sufficiency, we engage our ‘new creation’ identity (2 Corinthians 5:17) and salvation through surrender (i.e. going weak into Jesus with delight and humility).

Unfortunately, remembering our ‘new creation’ identity in the heat of hustle isn’t always easy. While some may struggle to understand daily dying and rising with Christ, for most of us, the crux comes down to self-effort and independent thinking.

For instance, when we make a mistake at work, the temptation is to fix the problem before we invite God into the situation. Granted, reconciling errors is an important part of any job; however, as marketplace ministers, we must understand there’s a divine order for our faith and reliance to follow.

If our heart is to serve the Lord, then we can know the way to best serve our colleagues and clients is to focus on Jesus as we embrace our weakness. In doing this, we accept the fact we are loved by God as new creations with a purpose beyond perfection. Again, conflicts and miscues come and go but the source of faith is eternal.

As nuanced as certain situations can be, far greater the glory when we discover freedom in embracing weakness – when ‘I can’t do it on my own’ becomes a battle-cry of worship.

Think of it this way: The Cross, as a picture of total weakness, was the plan from the beginning. Accordingly, we can find peace knowing God designed dependence to be a lifeline in our relational pursuit of Him. To the secular world, dependence is weakness, the sign of our frailty, but in God’s eyes, dependence is a highway of intimacy and discovery. 

Practically, this can manifest several ways at work. A classic example involves our response to fear and anxiety. When we encounter gossip, false accusation and/or neglect, our default is often centered in retaliation or withdrawal as opposed to yielding in surrender with praise and petition. Yet, as our faith compels us, anytime we feel overwhelmed, we can see the pain and discomfort as opportunities to press into Jesus.

When we feel angry about subordinates or teammates not committing their all, we commit the frustration to Jesus and the need for immediate resolution. Remember peace is not simply an overflow of wisdom but the way we trust God when we’re struggling to connect, relate, or understand. 

If it helps, consider how Paul relished the thorn. In the same way the thorn became his icon of dependence, so too it can be our symbol of savor for Jesus as we yield and surrender. As for how we do this at work, I submit we follow a similar pathway:

As we depend on God by yielding to the Spirit and acknowledging our helplessness, we can…

  1. Surrender our struggle by receiving grace in place of fear and our entitlement to make sense of our surroundings.
  2. Remember the battles we fight are not against flesh and blood but of principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).
  3. Approach suffering not only as a way we engage God’s Kingdom but as the core to our vocational identity (Hebrews 5:8).
  4. Enter into His courts with praise/gratitude knowing we’re called as faithful stewards and partakers of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
  5. Respond to Jesus in weakness through prayer, petition, obedience. 
  6. Walk in humility knowing Christ lives His dependence to the Spirit through us (Isaiah 11:1-5).
  7. Rest in knowing goodness and godliness will mark our work because we have been given the mind of Christ (Psalm 145:7, 2 Peter 1:3, 1 Corinthians 2:16).
  8. Tackle conflicts with confidence knowing it’s not on us to overcome. 
  9. Abide in intimacy through daily dying/rising with Christ (i.e. calibrating to the Cross).
  10. View dependence as a way we trust God for healthy working relationships and perpetuate peace even when we don’t feel it.
  11. Perceive the future with expectancy knowing God will transform our hearts through the renewing of our minds.
  12. Obey with joy knowing as we worship through weakness, our attitudes are shaped in peace by the same power that renews/transforms the minds of Christ we already have.

As Paul declared in Galatians 2:20, we don’t rely in our strength but yield to Christ who lives in us. Therefore, when the work gets tough, when the times get rough, dare to see your inward groans as worship unto Jesus. If suffering is the catalyst to embracing weakness and embracing weakness the key to pressing into God, then it makes sense why we can boast in God’s sufficiency. To live as Kingdom influencers at work, we must remember our success is not about what we accomplish each week but what we gain going weak into Jesus. 

Bottom line: Since we have the mind of Christ, we can experience breakthrough at work by the way we depend on Him. In times of strength, we honor God by acknowledging the good we contribute is because of Him; in times of weakness, we honor God by delighting in what we can’t do apart from Him. After all, when we work with the mind of Christ applied, not only can we taste communion with Jesus in challenging circumstances but embrace weakness as both the way we surrender to the Cross and the way we relate and endure as new creations. 

Selah.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I encourage you, friends, to let your thorn be a boost to Jesus. Don’t just press through at work but press in. Don’t just surrender on the go, but draw near and be still. After all, teachable hearts make preachable moments and you, brothers, are testaments to this truth.

Cover photo creds: Kirkland Baptist Church; videos courtesy of Steve Fry‘s Reset series @ The Gate

Can You Dig It: A SOAP Study on James 1:19-21

Scripture: “Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” ~ James 1:19-21 (MSG)

 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” ~ James 1:19-21 (ESV)

Observations/Applications: Before we analyze these verses, we must first note the context of James 1. In this letter, Peter is discussing two things:

  1. How believers should persevere during trials.
  2. How to receive wisdom from God.

After converging these points in the intro, Peter provides a powerful series: Lead by listening, be slow to speak to ensure discernment, and be slower to anger so peace may abound.

Essentially, Peter pulls inspiration from the Proverbs and converts it into an endurance tutorial.  

Are you weary and weak? Be still and know He is God.

Are you experiencing pain? Let God bridge your hurt and emotion.

Do you find your faith tested? Again, be still, listen, and know God is for you.

After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). 

As for our listening, Peter isn’t saying we automatically replace speaking with hearing. Rather, He is channeling a similar vibe from Ephesians 4:29-30

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 

Often times, we perceive this passage through the lens of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel use words if necessary.” However, we must remember while the man meant well, his words aren’t Scripture. We don’t determine what’s necessary through free will but through what is good and true as God defines; hence, why engagement in God’s Word is critical for growth and the life that results.

‘Cause truth is: There are many times at work or in house when we must communicate. Especially in certain professionals, we can’t always afford to be silent or plow behind the comfort of a screen. As such, it’s important we as Kingdom influencers speak life when we speak up or out. Again, it’s not about what we have to say but rather what needs to be said. If our aim is to make God’s love known through truth, we must remember timely stillness, not perpetual quietude, is the road to this reality. 

Now, before I continue, let me be clear. I’m not saying St. Francis of Assisi was wrong; I’m not saying those who advocate the phrase are wrong. Rather I am cautioning us to consider what ‘if necessary’ means as we reference God in the moment, on the clock, etc. Obviously, don’t be silent when you’re supposed to speak and call it ‘wisdom’. Instead know the purpose of your perseverance, in silence or in speech, comes down to aligning to God’s love in faith and His will in prayer.  Remember the ‘how’ bows to the who; not the other way around. As great as our execution can be when given the green light, God’s light is all the greater.

I love how the ESV and MSG translations dance in v. 21:

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”

Like the implied soil, the imagery here is rich. As Lord of all creation, God by proxy is the master gardener of our hearts given His Word is designed to root and yield fruit. Yet, while we know the way we live should reflect what we belief, in the minutiae of work, it’s not always easy. Crazy clients, detached supervisors, secondary natter…the challenge of our character’s consistency never stops.

Thankfully, Peter gives us a straight-forward example of how we can engage space for faith to mature. As we turn from pride and abandon fear, we can receive God’s Word with meekness knowing it’s already been planted in our hearts. This doesn’t mean God is one-and-done with what He sows; contrarily, it means when we come to faith in Christ, God never stops pursuing more room in our hearts to hide His Word. From there, God by His Spirit stirs us closer to His heart by encouraging us to His Word.

Now, here’s where it gets fun. First off, why would Peter conclude his point with an earthy metaphor? Or better put, how can we receive something from God that’s already been buried?

To answer this, let’s review Philippians 4:8 (AMP):

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart.

This leads me to a key point:

Just as God is faithful to plant His Word, we likewise must be faithful to implant it.

For many who believe Jesus is Lord and Savior can the accept the idea God sows truth by His Spirit. The question is when push comes to shove in our darkest days, when the chaos of enterprise is sapping our strength, are we focusing on what is perfect, pure, and honorable? Or are we setting before us the way of surviving and striving? 

Think of this way: If God entrusts us with His trust, then we can implant what He plants. What He sows, He renews, and what He renews we can reap in confidence. My encouragement to you, my friends, is to not separate your daily work from your daily walk. Let gratitude pave the way for humility and let humility mark the efforts of your heart and mind. Care for each other with sincerity knowing what you do is secondary to who and how God has made you. And as you reference God, know you approach Him as more than a conqueror. As you resist fear and anxiety, as you cast your cares on the Lord, understand you’re giving Him room to landscape your heart with inspired truth and perspective straight from His Word. Don’t just think about things that are good, but let God cultivate His good into a harvest shared with those around you. Whatever you do, whatever you say…let your work be a testimony of God’s Word continually renewed in you. By committing to these soul goals, these divine purposes, not only will you ‘fertile’ your heart but discover the seeds you’re meant to sow back as a co-gardener unto the Lord.

Selah.

Prayer: Lord, in times like these, what can we do but thank you? To stand in awe of your goodness and faithfulness despite our frailties and fragilities? As we digest this Word, we’re reminded of your master plan as created by master hands. Of anything that made new, we know it comes for you. As such, help us to treasure your Word as daily bread, as branches clinging to the vine. Plant new words, ideas, and visions into our hearts today. Teach us how to be faithful stewards of the rich seed you give us. May they take root for your glory so we, as humble, fearless workers, can tell your story. Landscape our ‘now’  so we may calibrate to your ‘wow’. We ask this in Jesus’ mighty, precious name. 

Cover photo creds: experteasy.com