If there ever was a Bible character that I can relate to, it is Peter. He always took things to the extreme. If he wasn't jumping in the water to swim to Jesus, he was amputating ears (John 18:26; 21:7). One minute, he was led by the Spirit of God to acknowledge the true identity of Jesus, and the next he was being rebuked for being led by Satan (Matthew 16:16, 23). He declared to all that he would never deny Jesus, and sure enough, that is exactly what he did (Matthew 26:34, 72). And, although much slower than John, it was he that entered the empty tomb (John 20:3-6). Finally, after being told to stay in Jerusalem and wait to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter decided to hold a business meeting to replace Judas (Acts 1:3-26). Jesus would replace Judas eight chapters later with someone Peter would not have considered in a million years: Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-16). Peter's impulsiveness resulted in Matthias becoming one of the twelve; he is not heard of again in the Bible. Jesus chose Paul and he ended up writing nearly half of the New Testament.
Years ago, I was a member of a Southern Baptist Church which had accepted the manifestation of Spiritual gifts during its services. Its reputation for unity was widely known. A small church in Western Kentucky needing a pastor, contacted Southern Seminary for resumes. Because it was about to split over "tongues speakers," they reasoned that a member of Graceland might be just the person to keep the church together. It didn't matter that I did not want to be a pastor; they "knew" I was the person God wanted for them. I went there, preached what God put on my heart, and turned them down.
Within a week, I heard a voice. I can't say it was with my ears, but it was just as clear as if it was. The voice said, "You go and let her come on the weekends." I thought the "voice" was merely my thoughts. It wasn't until the next day, when I was telling a pastor friend about it, that I had one of those "ah-ha" moments. Right in the middle of a sentence, I suddenly realized that the "voice" was speaking in the second person. It was not, "I will go..." but "You go." That is when I knew God was the One speaking. I became the pastor of a very dysfunctional church the following week. Lucky me!
My first official sermon consisted of two points. Yes, I know every good sermon has three, but I wasn't trying to be good, I was being obedient. The first point was from 1 Corinthians 14:39, "...forbid not the speaking of tongues." Surprisingly, I heard no applause nor gasps of outrage, and I waited to give them a chance to respond. My second point was from the very next verse. "Let all things be done decently and in order." This point was explained using several references, such as: Romans 14:13-21; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; Ephesians 4:3; and Philippians 2:1-8. All that I preached could be summed up in one chapter: 1 Corinthians 13, or for that matter, in two verses, Galatians 5:13-14!
To be continued.