Three Strikes – You’re Out! Says Who?

Today’s Truth
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” ( NIV emphasis added).

Friend To Friend
June was a senior on the debate team when she presented a pro-life argument.  She did her research and displayed amazing pictures of the development of a child in his mother’s womb.  She won the debate and received the highest grade possible.  It was six months later when she had her first abortion.

See, simply knowing the truth does not assure that we will walk in the truth.  June knew the truth in her head, but did not have the courage to apply it to her own life.  “I could not speak what I supposedly believed any longer,” June lamented.  “I was a defeated failure.”  June went on to have two more abortions while attending college and eventually dropped out of school.  Pregnant for the fourth time, she packed her bags and went home to her parents.  As far as they knew, this was her first pregnancy.

This time, June knew she would have her baby…and she did.

Peter, the disciple, and June walked a similar path.  While June denied her children the right to live, Peter denied his Savior’s Lordship.

During the last meal that Jesus celebrated with his disciples before he faced the cross, Jesus warned them that he would be leaving soon.  “Lord, where are you going?” Peter asked.

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.  Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (John 13:37, Matthew 26:33).

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth (He always does), before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:36-38).

“But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 13:41).

I imagine Jesus simply looked at Peter with a knowing eye and a wounded heart.  Sure you will, buddy, he must have mused. You will die for me, but not today.

Peter was so sure of himself as he stood before the debate team and presented the facts.  And yet, before the sun rose over the horizon he did the very opposite of what his self-assured, overconfident words proclaimed.

“You are not one of disciples, are you?” a girl asked at the door to the High Priest’s courtyard.

“I am not,” Peter replied.

“You are not one of his disciples, are you?” someone asked as Peter stood warming his hands by the fire.

“I am not,” Peter denied.

“Didn’t I see you with Jesus in the olive grove, and aren’t you the fellow who cut off my relative’s ear?” challenged another.

“I am not!” Peter declared for a third time.

The moment the third denial escaped Peter’s determined lips, a rooster crowed.  As the new day broke over the horizon, Peter’s heart broke over his sin.  Peter wept bitterly over his cowardly actions.  This brash, boisterous, demonstrative fisherman had cowered under the accusing gaze of a mere servant girl.

I am fearful that we have put this story on a shelf for safe keeping.  We, as believers tend to follow the baseball rule book rather than God’s Word when it comes to the failure of our brothers and sisters – three strikes and you’re out.  But the Umpire of the Universe calls it differently.  He puts on the cloak of mercy and grace, calls us to repentance, and invites us to get back in the game.

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, I have failed so many times.  Thank You for not turning Your back on me, but welcoming me home with open arms.  Help me to extend the same grace to others that You have extended to me.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Can you think of a time when you felt disqualified because of a particular sin or mistake?

What do you think God would say to you about that?

Can you think of a time when you gave up on someone because of their failings or felt they should be disqualified because of a sin…even if they had repented?

What do you think God would say to you about that?

23 Responses to Three Strikes – You’re Out! Says Who?

  1. Diane Guy August 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    His mercies are new every morning was just what I needed as I read your devotion today. Thank you and God Bless you and your ministry. I love the Girlfriends in God devotions. Keep them coming.

  2. Barbara H. August 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    Praise God! He is a God of many chances and always waiting for us to come and sup with him. all we have to do is repented and say Yes Lord I AM YOURS USE ME FOR YOUR GLORY. HALLELUIAH! God is blessing this Ministry

  3. Maria August 18, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    Thank you – this was sent from the Lord today. I have given up on something important in my life for a sin that can be forgiven, I know all I need it the Lord’s forgiveness which I have, which we all have. Forgive me Lord and thank you for all the blessings you continue to bestow on me

  4. Shernelle Bartlett August 19, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    I believe today’s devotion was especially sent to encourage me. I needed to be reminded that nothing shall separate me from God’s love for His love covers a multitude of sins. As long as I walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh, there is no condemnation!

  5. Vicky August 19, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    What a true blessing. As I read the words, they were like little arrows piearcing my heart. I know God used your words this morning to speak to me, through His word.

  6. Michelle August 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    What a blessing to know that God still loves and forgives us when we fail. I am very thankful that I serve a God who will not judge me and picks me up when I fail(quickly too)! This messaage hit me hard today by letting me know that God cares and loves us no matter how many times we fall short.

    Each morning I come in and read the devotions,what a blessing they are to me. THANK YOU!!!!

  7. Loren August 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    I am a first year teacher starting my first day of school. I must say your message today brought peace to my nervous mind. I know God has placed me in this high school to reach his young sheep. The part of the devotion talking about Peter reaching God’s sheep reminded me of the impact I can and hope to have on my students. Thanks for the great devotion!

  8. Konji August 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    Yes this give me hope for I know that even when I fail, God was aware and wants me to continue in my walk even stronger than before. As a mother of 3 little ones ages 5 and under and one the way; I tend to be busy, busy, busy especially now that I am in school. I have a perfectionist characteristic that makes it is even more, frustrating for me. I sometimes get off course and disorganized, I don’t reach goals when I want to, so tired that I slack on planning, feel pressure from my all areas church, spouse, school and more. It can be very overwhelming at times. This scripture gives me so much hope for I simply place my name in the blank, so that it read Konji, Konji. I personalize this scripture when I have failed in any area. When I do that it speaks to me saying the enemy wants to cause harm but I am praying for you so when you come back realizing I love you know matter what you will get back on the path, in my word, in my will. Please use your failure as a testimony to strengthen your sisters and brothers. Thank you for sharing this word with me today! May God continue to bless this ministry as it touches and changes lives to the Glory of God

  9. Annette August 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    I had a terrible fight w/ my husband this morning. And then a few hours later I received an invitation to help with an outreach at our church (specifically, by praying in the prayer room during the event.) This is something I would love to do, and I feel God is prompting me to participate this way, but I hear this voice (satan) that says, “You’re a joke! Look at the ugly words you and your husband exchanged this morning! You can’t be used in ministry when you’re such a mess yourself!” I know, in my head, that satan does NOT want me to serve God and further His kingdom. But my heart is wounded. I have to stop rewinding the screen from this morning, stop the self-pity, forgive and seek forgiveness, and get back to participating in God’s work! Yes, I can imagine how Peter felt…
    Thank you for reminding me of this encouraging, hope-filled story of God’s endless supply of forgiveness and compassion. I feel His embrace…

  10. Samantha August 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    This verse gives me hope for myself because it showed me that although I may fall in some many areas, God still has faith in me and He still sees me as a vessel to be used for His works. I have many shortcomings, many failures, but I know that God had a plan for me and it makes me feel good because I have His love and compassion; I’m glad that I know, even if I do the wrong things, I still have the love and compassion of God in my graces as long as I know in my heart that I am sorry and want to be who God set out for me to be. I am thankful so very much for that knowledge and pray that I do better in following and serving Him the way He sees fit.

  11. Beth August 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Sharon,

    I’ve been feeling like Satan’s been allowed to “sift me like wheat” a ton lately. My husband, my kids, potentially close friends, extended family, church staff – there have been many areas where i have felt torn apart and like i don’t have strength anymore to feed His sheep! i need prayer to be faithful in that calling. 5 children (7 yrs. and under), a very busy husband, a growing church, busy friends, and long distance extended family makes it all the harder. Thank you all (all the GiGs!) for your commitment to “Feed US, His sheep!” You rock my world!

    Standing on the ROCK of Ages,
    Beth 🙂

  12. Jody August 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    I really needed to read this devotional this morning… Last night I struggled with feelings of failure, feelings of worthlessness… wondering why I was here and if I even had a purpose. I wasn’t even going to read the devotional this morning… But God was listening last night, He heard my cries and felt my tears. I needed to be reminded of God’s grace. My sins are “not greater than God’s grace”. It isn’t God who is telling me I am a failure, it is satan and I have been giving him too much power over my thoughts lately. Thank you for this amazing eye opening lesson:)

  13. Sharon J. August 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Thank you for the devotional today. For me I would like to say that yes, I will fail. I have fallen. The scripture also spoke to me to remember that it’s all about me. How many times do I need to hear something that speaks to me about selfishness. I know Jesus Christ as my Savior, someone doesn’t even know him. All people are his sheep. They are dying because I am to ashamed of past sins to step out and tell them about Jesus. Have mercy and give me strenth, wisdom and boldness.

  14. Paula August 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Many many years ago, my Mother asked for only 1 thing from me for her Mother’s Day gift…come to church with her. I was living unmarried with my son’s father. I felt like I was so eaten up by sin that the church would absolutely crumble and fall on me and everyone in it, killing us all. I didn’t want to be responsible for the deaths of all those innocent people. Isn’t it awful how Satan has such power to put such thoughts into our heads? I thought I was such a sinner there was absolutely no hope for me. Well, guess what, I went to church that Sunday morning, and the church stood strong!!!! I was honestly so nervous, I was nauseous!!! But, Praise my Majestic Holy God, I lived through the experience. Now, I’d like to say that I got saved that day, but I didn’t. Many years later, my Mother asked me to come to church again (she asked nearly everytime I saw her, actually). The church was in need of a piano player, and Mom said I could play. Oh my! A sinner, playing hymns?!!! Again, I was unworthy and declined to accept the offer. However, I came home, got out one of the hymnals my Mother had insisted buying when I took lessons, and started practicing. It had been over 30 yrs, since I’d played. Late one night, I played a song called “Please Search the Book Again”. Wow, did that hit home. I knew my name wasn’t written in the Book of Life! God started dealing with me, convicting me of my sins, but most of all, I could hear him telling me he loved me and he would forgive me of everything I’d ever done…mark my slate clean!! I knelled on my knees right there at my piano bench and asked God to forgive me, thanked Him for His Precious Son, Jesus, who washed my sins white as snow with His blood. Needless to say, and to make a very long story short, I play the piano at church and love the stories in the hymns we sing!!! My Mother is proud and thrilled I’ve given my life to Jesus to lead and guide. And I’m not perfect, everyday, I repent and always, always, God says to me…It’s ok, I still love you, Now get back to work! Thank you for allowing me to share this. I hope someone will be touched by my experience and know that no matter what sins you’ve committed, God Loves You and wants nothing more than to have you back in His Arms, so He can take care of you.

  15. Shelly Smith August 19, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Thank you so much for this devotion. I have been struggling after hearing a message in our church about how many people will be in hell over one technicality. It made me start searching for answers. I have lived a life of being backslidden and have recently wondered that I had lost my salvation. I have prayed and begged God to give me a clear sign that I was still his child and had not been gone too long or gone too far for me to be restored to Him. I asked Him to slap me upside the head with whatever message He is trying to get through my thick skull. In the past few days, He has answered my prayers and showed me through many devotions and emails that I still belong to Him. Thank God for His almighty Grace that saves even a wretched wreck like me! Thank you to Girlfriends in God for the work you do. God Bless You all!

  16. Tene Harris August 19, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    Hi,I just wanted to say that this devotion today really confirmed what God has already revealed to my heart this morning.Thank you for the devotion and helping me see and understand that there will be failures and we can’t wallow in them. We have to repent to God and get back on track.I’m having a hard time letting go and letting God and I know he can fix my situation if I trust Him and surrender all my cares to Him.Sometimes when I talk to my spiritual family they tend to beat me down because I keep messing up and questions rather I love God or not.They actually tell me that I don’t and that honestly knocks me down even lower than I already feel.I know that God had me read this cause I had stopped reading the devotions thank you again

  17. Jessi August 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you for that. Im a 27 year old woman with hormone ailments and this really touched my heart. Ive been struggling with the whole “you cant use me im not good enough”…the reason i try more to do better the next time is because i dont want to do bad but sometimes as paul has said something to the like of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…i think that was paul…lol…but i just want to thank you for this. also b/c so many women have had abortions and alot of people (even in church) judge these women when they need love and guidance more than judgement. thank you for showing whomever reads this anyone can be forgiven. God is using you tremendously…

  18. maudine1959 August 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    This devotioal was so right on for me. I have been soo sad for once again using drugs. I have been fighting the battle for 25t years. I really was thinking He would not, nor could not use someone so wishy washy. This devioional has filled me to stay clean, just for today, and to serve God through the resources I have,(I’m was on the pity pot for other issues also). This is a new day and a new chance to doHis will and to realize it is not me who should do the fighting, but to let God fight for me.

  19. hanna St bernard August 19, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    i believe that todays devotion is for me because i am going through that situation as june and peter, thank you jesus for your word today thank you for speaking to me so directly and clearly thank thank you jesus i needed that lord.
    you are truely and great God there is none like you.
    thank you for your blessed assurance oh lord!!!!
    God your good and your mercies last for ever.

  20. Denise August 20, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Good morning, I really needed the past two devotions because I’m somewhat like Peter myself. I left the church because of my divorce.My ex and I were active members and because of infidelity and other unsolved issues and some abuse I divorced him. He left the church and moved to another state and remarried before the divorce was final but, everyone at the church treats me as though it’s my fault it’s been a year now and it’s hard for me to go to church and I really miss being there but I can’t bare the pain so I feel like I’v denied God at some point.Please pray for my family because satan is really trying to sift us like wheat.

  21. JPenn August 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    I just had to tell you that I really love this site! It is so inspiring and gets right to the heart of the matter . I love it – love it – love it !!! God is really blessing you ,others and myself ! Thank You – Jenn

  22. Aretha August 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Good morning, I really love the daily devotions. Just when you think this one doesn’t really have anything to do with me you get to the end and end up in tears. Have you ever felt disqualified for a sin? Yes I have made myself feel I am unworthy of a lot of things I receive. At 27 I was a new owner of a home and a new car all in one week. I kept having this feeling I do not deserve any of this. Always as good things would come my way I would play them as little things that I really did not deserve. I realized I was condemning myself for something I had done has a teenager. I became pregnant at 14 and had my child when I was fifteen. All these years I carried feeling that I had shamed the church, my dad who was a minister in the church, and God. How could I who have been taught my whole life what is right allow this to happen. Well this devotion was an eye opener for me. What would God say about it. I truly believe he has already said I have been forgiven you and now it is up to you to receive wholeheartedly what blessing I have given you and will continue to give you. Thank You Girlfriends in God for breaking down the word of God so that we can understand it and learn to apply it to our own lives.

  23. Allison August 22, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    Dear Sharon,
    I cried after reading your devotion…cried with relief. For over ten years, I lived as a Christian hypocrite. The prodigal son didn’t quite fit me and neither did Peter’s story, I thought. I needed to see Peter from a different perspective. You allowed me that. His denial of Christ was not a one time event which he quickly repented of, it covered THREE different occasions. Our Lord STILL recived him with open arms. Maybe now I can finally get over my past. Thank you! By the way-this was the first of your devotions that I have ever read. I look forward to getting your book.

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