How praying all-night changed my life

By Ruthanne Smith (her comment on an article on my blog, dailymedit.com)
(the original article is here: https://dailymedit.com/2013/04/30/how-to-pray-all-night-all-by-yourself/)

I came across this article because I was looking to find someone else who had found the power of praying in tongues all night. And I can attest to the power. About 7 years ago, while unemployed and single, I had the opportunity to pray for hours during the day. I would take long drives on the back roads near my town and drive very slow, praying in tongues for most of it. I did this for 3 months strait after looking for a job in the mornings. Most days I prayed for around 6 hours, but some were 4 hours and others 8. During that time, all parts of my life was transformed. I had the clearest thinking I have ever had. I got the best job I had ever had, making 3x what I had ever made. I had a joy and peace that was truly supernatural. Nothing bothered me, nothing annoyed me. I was able, without even trying, to never gossip or worry or judge people. One night, I went out with my girlfriends from grade school. They were all drinking and I was the designated driver. But, I had so much fun! I actually felt buzzed the entire night. And when I got in the car to drive, I was alert and clear, yet still happy and playful as if I had drank along with them. I know it sounds unreal, but I am telling you the truth. It was truly amazing. Also, my body just started working as it should. I had suffered pms, acne and migraines on a weekly basis since adolescence. I also always carried an extra 15-20lbs. I lost all the weight and my body toned up without ANY exercise or diet. I was totally Hot! (In a good way) In fact, my diet was worse than normal, because I was on a limited income. I also had absolutely no pms with perfect 28 day cycles, my acne cleared up and my migraines completely vanished. Toward the end of the three months of doing this, I also met my husband. We were married within 9 months. When I got my amazing job, however, I no longer had a bunch of free time to spend praying, so I stopped doing it. I did not notice the affects of not praying (or praying much less) for over a year. By that time I was married, and had a new baby. I quickly realized the source of my joy and fulfilled life was that intense time of prayer. So I began trying to fit prayer time into my schedule, but it just wasn’t working. I would only have a few minutes before the demands of my life pulled me away. I actually came to resent my husband and child, even though I know that they are wonderful gifts from the lord, that were birthed out of those hours of time in his presence. After nearly six years of asking God for the time to pray, he gave me the idea to pray at night, instead of sleeping. My first thought was, “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” But, the truth was, he gave me the idea years before and I disregarded it. (I was a sleep deprived newlywed and new mother who trusted in sleep more than God). But, this time, I had grown in my faith. I knew, from the miracle changes I had experienced before, that losing sleep would not affect me. Why? Because in HIM we live and move and have our being. Because HE is life! Because He is our strength. Because He lifts us up. Because He exalts us. He is the creator of ALL things. That would include the restoration of my brain and body. I decided to trust him with those things. I had faith that being in his presence during the night hours would be more restorative to my physical body than natural sleep. And you know what! It absolutely has been. I spent 2-3 hours in prayer, per night the first week and that quickly has grown to all nighters. I stay alert by driving. I drive those same back roads, which are empty, besides some wildlife, and drive 26 miles per hour on cruise control (that’s the lowest my car will drive on cc). I am only starting my third week and I don’t do all nighters every night, yet. I trust it to grow into that, though. But I am already watching my life transform, again. The first thing I noticed was the melting away of worry and fear, as well as no longer resenting my daughter or husband. I am confident that in a very short time, I will see miracles as amazing as those I experienced 7 years ago. It’s exciting and fun and I crave my fellowship with him! Oh, yeah. And I feel FAR MORE rested after the nights I spend MORE time with him. My all nighters are more restorative than my 2 or 3 or 4 hour nights. I truly believe that a person could grow to a place where they did not have to sleep, which is something I am seeking. Jesus said, “if we would lose our life for his sake, we would find it.” I believe that is what is happening. I am losing my “source of life”, my sleep and I am finding it, IN HIM!

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Love

John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (ESV)

There should be no presumption in love, it should be followed by action. In the case of Jesus, he said your love for him is manifested in obedience to him. There is no sentiment in the matter. You need to walk the talk.

Right from the first chapters of the bible, the battle has been about obedience. Adam and Eve faced it and they failed (Genesis 3). Jesus faced it and he passed (Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus said that he must do the work of him who sent him (John 5:1-5). For him, being on the earth was about doing the will of God, following his mandate, embracing his purpose in every way.

That should also be your own stance. Jesus sent us to the world, the way the father sent him (John 20:21). Let that be the basis of your life.

Obedience is an exercise of the will, and God wants to empower our will to choose and do his will, uncluttered by fear, ignorance and distraction.

The empowerment comes by the Holy Spirit coming into us to pour the love of God into us, so that it becomes our default to obey, breaking into light, and we sense the grieving of the Holy Spirit in us when we are merely thinking of disobeying (Ephesians 4:30).

What it means to be accursed

old-mill-489971_640Deuteronomy 21:23: his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (ESV)

Jesus hung on the cross. He died a terrible death. He was made a curse for us, though he knew no sin, though he brought only blessing, in a great travesty of justice. He did not bear the curse for himself but for us.

To be accursed is to be separated from God on a permanent basis, to be cut off from his life, to not be recognised by God. To give us a picture of what it means to be accursed we should see what happened to the walled city of Jericho (Joshua 6-7).

When the city was to be conquered, everything there was meant to be destroyed, and the one who took something for himself from the city was likewise destroyed, together with his household, and properties and what was stolen. They were stoned to death with a pile of stone on them. Rejection does not go further than that. Jericho was supposed to be treated as “accursed.” Achan the man who was stoned to death with his family was also treated as accursed, together with anyone related directly to him.

Jesus was totally rejected as he carried the sin of humanity on the cross and he cried to God: my Father my Father, why have you forsaken me (Mark 15:34)? He went through that so we can come into the full embrace of God having been invested with the righteousness of Jesus. He was rejected so that we can be accepted.

That is why Paul said that the preaching of the cross is an offence to the Jews, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1Corinthians 1:17-31). It is an offence because to them, the cross is a symbol of a curse, but to those who believe in Jesus, the cross releases the presence of God to us. At the foot of the cross the world and flesh becomes cut off from us and us from them. What was shame for Jesus, was renewal for us.

Without Identification with Christ in his death, we could not be identified with him in his resurrection.

He gives a new meaning to the cross. It is now equally the symbol of death and life, burial and resurrection, rejection and acceptance. Jesus bore the curse so that we can bear the blessing. He was accursed so that the blessing of Abraham can come upon those who are in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13-14).

It is at the foot of the cross that we meet the cleansing blood. On the cross, what was written as the list of things wrong with us, was nailed. The legal basis for the devil to hold us bound, hold us back in death, diseases and sin, were removed, and we are free, where Jesus was bound.

It is at the foot of the cross that we encounter the power of God for transformation. Through the cross Jesus passed from natural to the supernatural, from weakness to the highest level of authority. And now he has been given the name above every other name (Philippians 2:5-11). Before coming to the cross, Jesus was beaten and battered, after the cross, he rose up to be lord of lord’s king of kings. At the cross he was the Lamb of God, afterwards he is the fiery one, with a sword in his mouth.

To be accursed means to be taken out of the way, to be cut off. And that was what happened to Jesus on the cross. He spread his arm, had nails pierced them, he was made a public spectacle, with his friends and associates weeping, but he has a different interpretation of the event.

And when he was about to breath his last he said that: IT is finished, while others, both those who mocked him and those who wept for him, thought HE was finished. How could they have known the better since he was bloodied and sentenced to death?

Some might have even been wishing for a last minute miracle for him to save himself from death.  Even now, there are people that might have informed some who claim that somehow the cross was a stage-managed event, with the real Jesus gone from the cross, and not really dying, because “God cannot die.”

How deluded! But the bible says that Jesus tasted death for all of us (Hebrews 2:9). To taste means to experience. If he did not really hag on the tree how can he taste death, if he did not really die, then the penalty for our sin was not really paid for and we are still far from God.

If he was not really accursed it means we are not really blessed. But the bible says that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). If God did not really walk the earth, therefore man could not really go up to heaven.

To be accursed is to be removed from a group. For Jesus, it means he is to be regarded as a non-Jew.  To be accursed also means to be numbered with the wrong people. Of Jesus it was said that he was numbered with the transgressors (Mark 15:26-228).

Because Jesus was numbered among the transgressors, we are numbered among the righteous, in a divinely orchestrated arrangement. While Jesus was counted among the wrongdoers, though he knew no sin, he was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2Corinthians 5:21). Jesus went into the darkness of hell, so that we might go up into the light of heaven. Paul said that he became poor that through his poverty we might become rich (2Corinthians 8:9).

When he said my God why have you forsaken, me, it opened the way for anyone who is willing to come into the divine embrace, washed away from the sin of the past, made new creature (2Corinthians 5:17), with a new start, a new name, a new direction, a new commission. Paul said that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which are to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Life in the soul, body and spirit

biker-384178_640Romans 8:11: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Death was the judgment that sin attracted in the Garden of Eden and that death passed to all men (Romans 5:12-21). God made man with his Spirit turning mere sand into a living soul, but when sin came into him, the function of the new spirit in man was downgraded to survival mode from flourishing mode, from eternal mode to limited mode.

But by the Holy Spirit coming into us through Jesus, we can again experience a full life. This will also animate our mortal bodies, right now, as the focus verse said. The Holy Spirit in us is not dormant. He has roles to play, which is giving life to our soul, body and spirit. And it each case, it is in conjunction with Jesus.

Soul

In conjunction with Jesus, the word the life is released to our soul. Jesus said that his words are Spirit and life (John 6:63), and the church is purified by the washing of water by the word. We have not been given the spirit of fear but of love power and sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7). The Holy Spirit in conjunction with the word of God makes our mind sound, equip us to make the right choices, the choice that leads to life and not death. As we take in the engrafted word of God, our soul gets saved (James 1:21-23).

We are privileged just because we have the Holy Spirit. When it comes to saying the right things, Jesus said that when his people are arrested and he asked to defend themselves because of their belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit at that time will give them what to say (Luke 12:11-12); that definitely is the influence of the Holy Spirit on the mind.

The coming of the Holy Spirit into us makes us the temple of God; that does not just help us to connect with God now but also help us to live well on earth. Someone in the bible says that he knows more that his teacher because he meditates on the word of God. Paying attention to the word should give us an advantage in the realm of mental work, if we release our faith for that to happen. The Spirit manifesting in the life of Daniel, the spirit of excellence made it possible for Daniel and his friend to do better than others in the academic world.

Change comes when we are exposed to life, and degeneration occurs as we are exposed to death. That is why we are told to watch the company we keep because that will have an impact on how we turn out overall. Evil communication corrupts good manners (1Corinthians 15:33).

The man in psalm one did not associate with the wrong people but embraced the word of God fully and he had good success. It was the same thing that God told Joshua. God said: this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

He was a warrior, and one would have thought that to be successful, God will have him learn some ancient battle strategy to practice, or send an angel to teach him some battle strategy. But he was told what he need is not what will be downloaded from heaven, and as Paul said: the word in near to him in his mouth (Romans 10:6-10).

And Joshua went on to do great things, like asking the sun and the moon to stand still. As he focused on the word of God, he took on the shape of divinity. Since the words are breathed by the Spirit (2Timothy 3:16), as we take in the word, we experience a deposit of the Spirit who is called the Spirit of life.

Body

The rejuvenating work of the Holy Spirit in our body is to actualise the reality that the stripes on Jesus’ body made possible for us (1Peter 2:24). Without pain there is no gain, therefore Jesus’ pain was our gain.

We must realise that our lot is different. The force of the Holy Spirit operating in the life of Jesus resulted in healing for many. And we have that same Holy Spirit in us, still unlimited in power, and it is still the same Jesus who said that the devil has come to steal, kill and destroy, but he has come that we may have life and abundant life (John 10:10). Living in health sounds like abundant life, but we must believe in the possibility that the presence of Holy Spirit in us brings.

Spirit

The blood of Jesus working on our heart gives room for the Holy Spirit to birth a new spirit within us, regenerating our dead spirit, gaining spiritual life (John 3:1-8).

Spiritual life is about higher ability. Just as the animals have higher level of functionality than an inanimate object like the stone, in the same measure, also those who operate by the higher life of Jesus have a higher life than those who do not.

We get to enter into the spiritual dimension, which is a higher dimension, a timeless zone where we interact with God, Spirit to spirit. We can perceive God, connect with him, which is the function of our spirit as enhanced by the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 2:1-13).

It was because of the higher life that Jesus operated in that he was able to walk on water (Matthew 14:29).  And when Peter asked Jesus to ask him to come to him on the water, and he did, Peter “rode” on those words to walk on it.

By that higher life what was not possible became possible. There is no impossibility in the realm of the higher life; that was why Jesus said that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we will say to the mountain to be removed and fall into the sea and it will obey us (Mark 11:23).

That is the power of faith, which moves us into the life and realm of God through which we break barriers. The bible says that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death, therefore life is about breaking barriers, suspending natural rules, changing the tides, running on a different kind of law by which we rule of over death (Romans 8:1-2).

Preaching openly

composite-717916_640Acts 28:31: preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness. (NASB)

While the church was still limited to Jerusalem, persecution rose up against the church with Saul as one of the arrowheads.

He made it difficult for the Christians to preach openly, taking pleasure in harming them, and eventually they dispersed from Jerusalem, which was the epicentre of the persecution, to places where they can more openly share the word of God.

So the persecution turned out for the advancement of the church, for its expansion (Romans 8:28). What was meant to limit them, only made them spread. The persecution was to make them afraid, but it backfired on their persecutors as the church flourished the more.

At first the Pharisees warned the apostles to shut up, but he refused and continued to wax strong in the land. They went to their company and after they had prayed God released his power the more to work through their lives, but the persecution that ensued after did not answer to such prayer, this time around the Christians were being waylaid, and starting with the martyrdom of Stephen which emboldened the persecutors to harm to the Christian, who they then relocated in droves, running for their lives, but the apostles still remained in Jerusalem.

The other onslaught against the church also came through Herod who killed James in order to curry the favour of the Jews. While all these were happening, Saul got saved. It was when the persecution against the church was really hot and Saul was a hero among the persecutors. But after he was saved, his life was marked by an endless cycle of persecution.

At the end when the writing of the Acts of the apostle was winding down, it ended with a rare occurrence in the experience of Saul (now Paul), being under arrest but able to preach openly. The numerous persecution in his life could not shut him up, he was rewarded with the opportunity in the focus verse to speak openly.

This did not happen by chance, Jesus, by revelation, had told him while he was just arrested in Jerusalem that he will stand for his name in Rome.

So Paul had no doubt in his mind as to the purpose he was to fulfil in Rome, where he was eventually taken to as a prisoner. It was to speak about Jesus at every opportunity.

He was not made an apostle just to bear the title, he had a serious job to perform, which he did. When he was in prison, he wrote letters to churches and individuals; that have endured till date. He said: though he was in bounds, the word of God was not, and the bible in our hands today is a testimony to Paul’s legacy as an enduring apostle.

His boundless energy, understanding and passion for Christ oozes out of that letter and right now we are being impacted, down the ages. Just as he passionately opposed the cross, after he had an encounter with Jesus, he directed that passion to Christ’s work so much that he said that he labours more than the other apostles (1Corinthians 15:10).

He was always on the move, having as a goal to preach Christ where he has not been named (Romans 15:20), willing to pay the sacrifices, making the long journeys to reach those places. He said that he fought with the beasts in Ephesus (1Corinthians 15:30-32), he said he was in fasting often (), in peril often (2Corinthians 11:22-33); he said that just as he was committed to the destruction of the church the tenure of his mind changed and he became burdened for the church to flourish (Romans ), saying to the church in Rome that he was hard-pressed to have them see his face in the flesh so that he can impart on them spiritual gifts and help them along in their faith. He said that he writes based on the grace that was given to him (Romans 15:15).

Paul charged Timothy to preach the word with all sense of urgency (2Timothy 4:2). He did not tell him to do what he does not do. He said follow me as I follow Christ (1Corinthians 1:11). His devotion was unquestionable.

He spoke the word with all sense of urgency. He did not regard preaching the word as something to be ashamed of. He said: I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). He spoke and wrote with 100percent conviction with no shadow of doubt in his mind, otherwise he could not have survived the many persecutions that came along his way and still continue to burn hot in passion for Jesus.

He spoke of Demas who departed from being part of his ministry team to pursue some other things (2Timothy 4:10). He said he loved this present world, while the bible says that we should not love the world nor the things in the word and that if we do, the love of the father is not in us (1John 2:15-17).

Paul talked about his attitude as a preacher, saying that he does not peddle the word of God (2Corinthians 2:17), no participate in hidden things of unrighteousness (2Corinthians 4). He is not trying to hoodwink the people.

He says his life is an open book as he seeks not just to impact the word of God, but to impact his very life. In that case, Paul cannot impact others more than he has been changed. He does not just want to speak with high-sounding words but to impact on others.

He was so effective that those who have never met him felt his impact. And in the book of acts certain people said he had turned the world upside down. He was a revolutionary. He disrupted of the status quo. He pushed the cause of Christianity with the last of his blood. He was jealous for the church he founded. And consistently watched over them in prayer.

His apostolic work was not just in the fanfare alone but in the place of prayer. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, he mentioned two sets of prayer (Ephesians 1, 3). He taught them the word and understood that he has a spiritual role of prayer to play over them so that they can come into the fullness of God for them.

His two prayers for the Ephesian church was about fullness. He prayed that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened so that they may know things that have to do with their new self in Christ, that has to do with the new power they now have operating in them, which operated in Christ to raise him from the dead. It was all about the new identity in Jesus, which they should now walk in the full consciousness of it.

The second prayer has to do with the love of God which they are also to comprehend together with the saint, and which if they comprehend fully, they will be filled with all the fullness of God. Epaphras followed the example of Paul and was committed to praying for the church in Colossi that they stand complete in all the will of God. While we need to be taught the will of God, praying really gets us fully into it (Colossians 4:12).

Though you may not be able to preach to others all the time, you can pray all the time for them. Paul said that prayer should be made all the time because God does not want any to perish but come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:1-4).

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Light of men

forest-657903_640John 1:4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (ESV)

Before Jesus came men were living in darkness, their understanding who God is was warped at best. Jesus become the revelation of the father, the full revelation (Hebrews 1:1-3).

He journeyed from heaven as the light of men. The bible says that in him was life and life was the light of men (John 1:1-6). Therefore in him, life and light are intrinsic linked.

When Man died spiritually in the Garden of Eden, he retreated into the darkness. But in Jesus we are taken from that place, and now we can know God and be strong because it is those who know their God who will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32b).

With the seed light of the knowledge of Christ in our heart, we can grow more and more in the things of God. Peter said we need to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of God (2Peter 3:18). That takes a deliberate effort. We cannot just say we are saved, that we have the light, we should seek to grow in that light, because the bible says that the path of the righteous shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

You grow in the light by pursuing truth. When Mary the sister of Martha sat at the feet of Jesus she was soaking in light listening to the words of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). We need to pay attention to the word of God. And that takes time and effort, powered by spiritual hunger.

While Paul was in the land of Ephesus preaching for two years at the end of that the bible says so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed, because the light intensity was very high. Again I say, it takes time (Acts 19:10-20).

Apart from hunger and thirst for truth, we also need to prayer for spiritual enlightenment. Paul prayed that the eyes of the heart of the Christians in Ephesus be enlightened, so that they come into the knowledge of God’s truth about themselves (Ephesians 1:15-21).

The devil has a vested interest in keeping us in darkness, he blinds people’s heart not to allow the light of the word to shine there for salvation and I dare say that to a limited sense he still wants to keep Christians in bondage so that we do not gain the full freedom that we have in Christ (Philemon 1:6, 2Corinthians 4:4).

We may not walk in the reality of what we do not know and the right walk crushed the head of the devil in our life. Paul said that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under the feet of some people (Romans 16:20). With the feet with which we walk in the reality of the presence, power, and purpose of God, we defeat the enemy’s wiles.

The devil wants to keep us from light, even though we have come to Christ. He erects different barriers on our path into more light. With prayer, we confront him. Paul asked a particular church to pray for him so that the word of God (which is the light because Jesus is the light and the Word) will have free course and be glorified (2Thessalonians 3:1). That prayer was necessary because of the opposition of Satan to that reality. There was a time he said he wanted to go somewhere but, he said, Satan hindered him (1Thessalonians 2:18). He was going their bearing the light of Christ but Satan will have none of it. But with prayer we come out tops.

We are meant to be light bearers. Just as Jesus said that the father sent him (to be the light of the world) so he has sent us (John 20:21). The disciples were first called Christ in Antioch and that meant: follower of Christs (Acts 11:26).

Paul said that the goal of the Christian minister is to teach every man, present every man perfect tin Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28). he wrote to the Ephesian church that God has set some in the church: apostles, prophets, teacher, evangelist to equip the saints for the building up of the body of Christ and till we are no longer children tossed to and fro by any wind of doctrine, by the evil machination men or corrupt minds, speaking the truth in lie, but we grow up in all things to the full measure of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-22).

So if Christ is light, Christians are to manifest the light in our multiplied number. That was why he told the disciples that it was good he went away, departing from them to heaven, because without that the Holy Spirit will not why come.

Why?

Because Jesus in his life was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). The Spirit without measure is not upon any other individual.

As he has the spirit without measure, so he is light without measure, and we are light in a measure, with a limitation. Paul said we have received the measure of faith according to the measure of Christ’s gift and we should use that gift in proportion to our faith (Romans 12:1-8).

To the limit that we use the gifts we have received from Christ, we shine his light, represent him and be a blessing to others. There is no light in any other, in any other and what you have is darkness. He came so that we will not walk in darkness.

We receive the light and we lead others into the experience of it. Jesus did not have a local agenda for his message. He said that when the disciples have the Holy Spirit come upon them, he said that they will be his witnesses everywhere from Jerusalem to far-flung places, all by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

That was why it was important that he goes because when he goes then he will send the Holy Spirit, which he was filled with when on earth. And just as the Holy Spirit moved Christ to meet the needs of others we will be stirred in a similar direction, and become light of men.  Paul said Timothy should be light, be an example to others; similarly, you should be a light bearer (1Timothy 4:12).

 

 

 

 

 

Denying Christ

jesus-284414_640Matthew 26:75: And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Some people may not deny Jesus verbally, but in their behaviour they deny his Lordship. He diagnosed this problem long ago saying that many call him lord but do not do what he says (Luke 6:46).

That is “mouth allegiance” instead of heart allegiance. The bible says that “the fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1),” and this is shown in the way he speaks and lives his life, without regulation, following the evil dictates of his heart, refusing to be regulated by God’s counsel.

Jesus says that if we confess him before men he will confess us before his father in heaven (Matthew 10:32). That means if we identify with him he will identify with us, Paul says that all that was gain to him prior to meeting Christ, he regard them as dung compared to the excellency of knowing Christ, and be found in him without his own righteousness but that which is by faith in Jesus (Philippians 3).

Paul was a Christ exclusivist. As far as he was concerned, everything must be viewed from that prism. He said to the Corinthians church I want to know nothing in your midst except Christ and him crucified (1Corinthians 2:2).

He said: through the cross the world is crucified to him and him to the world (Galatians 6:14). The point is that having experienced the cross the world makes no meaning for him (his perception changed), and the world starts to see him as strange because of how the embrace of the cross has changed him, hence the persecution he faced, because he does not fit in and the message of the cross he preaches is in direct confrontation with the prevailing mindset of the people. It makes them uncomfortable.

Jesus, in one of the parables that he gave, spoke about the different kinds of heart with the seed of the word of God falling on them.

There is the stony ground on which the seed fell, and though it sprouted suddenly, it’s growth was cut short because there was no deep root in it and when the sun came up, which stands for persecution because of the word, it dries it up and the word did not become fruitful (Mark 4:1-20).

But the persecution faced by Paul did not have the same effect, which means that he has a deep root of devotion to Christ, and would not deny him no matter what. When he was making a defence of himself at a time of persecution, he said: I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). He had an encounter with Jesus and he could not say that he did not see what he saw. And he was faithful.

In the focus verse, we see Peter remorseful after denying Jesus three times. Making an observation of the 12 apostles before the arrest of Jesus, one would be forgiven to have thought that if anyone was going to deny Jesus, it will be Peter, but he did.

He had boasted: “I will never deny you (Mark 14:27-31, 66-72),” but fell apart when his confession was tested. Your confession will be tested, what you claim to believe will be tested. Just as the depth of your understanding of God’s word will be tested.

Paul said that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against different levels of spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:10-12). In the wilderness, the devil tempted Jesus whether he knew who he really was.

Paul said he who will be godly will be persecuted (2Timothy 3:12). Persecution comes in form of pressure to deny Christ, to deny the truth you have known. Eve was pressured by the devil to deny the truth of the word of God to her which had to do with not eating a particular tree, and she fell into the temptation (Genesis 3). In eating that fruit, she denied the word of God, which was the truth.

Peter denied Christ but he found repentance and restoration. Earlier Jesus had warned him that Satan has asked to sift you like a wheat, but he had prayed for him that his faith will fail not (Luke 21:31-31).

Jesus even spoke beforehand of the denial. This was to show that though Peter was going to mess up and mess up big time, Jesus was not surprised. Small sins, big sins, people mess up, and what Jesus calls for was repentance. We should try to justify our sins, but come clean so that we can receive blood cleansing (1John 2:9-11).

After Peter denied Jesus, he was overwhelmed at how he fell below the standard he once set for himself. He felt dejected. But Jesus later appeared to him to reaffirm his commitment to him, even calling him by name when he sent a woman to the apostles soon after he rose from the dead (Mark 16:17).

While the devil would like to impress on him that what he had done is really evil and that there is no way he can retrace his step, no way in which he can be again valuable to God, that he was the worst of the worst, but he believed the words of Jesus when he asked him later to feed his sheep, that he was still relevant (John 21:15-18). Jesus did not even mention the error.

As far as Jesus was concerned there are greater things ahead than mourning over the past that cannot be changed.

Peter fell down but he got back up again. He realised that the mercy of God gets refilled each rising of the sun, and there is no exhausting it throughout the day since it is eternal, coming from an eternal God. He looked into the eyes of Jesus and saw inexhaustible love, which as long as he was willing to receive it, God was willing to give it. He did not have to draw back and fall away like Judas did.

Denying Christ is not the unforgivable sin. We can come back, we can turn back. This same Peter who chicken-heartedly denied Jesus three times, stood before the Pharisees after his resurrection and ascension and said: we cannot yield to you in any way, we have to follow God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

He was fearless before the Pharisees, who had sometimes before organised the killing of Jesus, his master. Peter stood firm against the threat to his life. What a transformation!

That is the power of the grace of God. So, because you fell today does not mean you cannot rise. Prophet Micah said: do not rejoice over me my enemy because when I fall I will rise again; when I sit in darkness God’s light will shine on me (Micah 7:8).

Because you are down does not mean you are out. The bible says that to him that joined to the living there is hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4). The bible says that there is forgiveness with God, so that he can be feared. Of one woman who showered a lot of affection on Jesus, he said: the one who is forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:47).

So God gives forgiveness to reap devotion and love from humanity. Rejection does not breed love, acceptance does. Jesus said: come to him all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). He welcomes us to receive from him, and one thing we receive is forgiveness, without which we will not find rest, either in this life or in the one to come (Acts 13:38).