John 21:17 reads "Simon son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep."
Three times Peter had denied knowing the Lord, even calling curses down upon himself in the presence of a young girl. "I don't know him," he had said. As the rooster crowed the Lord looks straight at Peter. It was no doubt a look of love. Peter had confidently declared that he would never fail the Lord, yet as Jesus predicted Peter did fall away. Jesus said, "But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Now, sometime later, our resurrected Lord encounters Peter at the Galilean seashore. He calls the fishermen friends and has breakfast with them. He then has a very personal conversation with Peter. Three times He urges, "If you love me feed my sheep." There had been a threefold denial now there is a threefold restoration.
Some of us who know the Lord have perhaps, at times, seen our actions or words betray Him. Take heart. We are yet usable. God restores and qualifies us even after failure. Paul had refused to take young John Mark with him on his second missionary journey because Mark had deserted him on the first. Instead, Mark accompanied the great encourager, Barnabas. Later, at the end of his days in a Roman prison Paul would write, "Get Mark and bring him with you because he is helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11).
If you have ever denied or deserted the cause of Christ, fear not. Like Peter and Mark, we can be restored. Our best work is still ahead. The righteous will still bear fruit in old age. It is by Grace we are saved, and by Grace we are used. Isaiah saw a vision of God and knew what a great sinner he was. Yet when the coal touched his lips his sin was removed. The Lord spoke saying, "whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah replied, "Here am I send me" (Isaiah 6:8).
Do you love the Lord Jesus this day? Then there is yet noble work for you to do. Whatever your gifts are make yourself available to God. The time is short and there is the work of the kingdom to be done. Our labor in Christ is not in vain, for Jesus Christ our Lord is risen indeed. We are yet usable, perhaps more than ever in our lives. God is gracious and desires to use us. God uses flawed vessels and cracked pots. Someone has said that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. If you have failed the Lord confess, go to the cross, and rediscover His grace. Then, restored and joyful, be amazed at how He is willing to use your life for His glory. He has called us to go and bear fruit, fruit that will remain. By the power of the Holy Spirit and through the Grace of God we are qualified and privileged to do so. God bless you struggling believer; the Lord loves you this day.
Roger Scalice, pastor of Streams of Grace Church, 455 S. Kirkland Road, Golden Valley, can be heard online at www.streamsofgracechurch.com. He can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 565-9611.