As humans, I think we have a tendency to want to earn things and gain things by our own merit–and that’s not a bad thing. However, it’s one of the biggest reasons why we have such a problem accepting God’s free gift of grace. It’s really nothing we’ve done or nothing we can do to draw ourselves near to Him; no matter how hard we try on our own, we can’t even focus on reading the Bible or bring ourselves to crack it open without God drawing our hearts back to Him. So, anytime we think or say that we are following Jesus of our own accord or by our own will, we need to stop and re-evaluate and beware lest we fall into the “Peter denial trap.”
Pray: Right now, ask God to show you how much you need Him, even in order to quiet your heart and focus on His Word. Ask Him to draw you near to Him and to remind you that it’s not happening because you said you would, but because God said He would.
Read: Luke 22:31-34, John 13:36-38
Ask: What does it mean to be sifted like wheat? How have you seen this in your own life?
What does it mean to you that Jesus, Lord of heaven, has prayed that your faith would not fail?
Have you ever been like Peter and declared that you would go anywhere, do anything, for Jesus? How did that turn out?
Apply: Though we are wretched and sinful, by His grace, God has poured out His Spirit on us so that we may know Him and chase after Him. But, make no mistake: following Jesus is hard. He tells us that again and again throughout the gospels. We will constantly stumble and fail in our walks with Him. We will constantly make promises to Him (and to others) that we cannot or will not fulfill. Jesus asks Peter and He asks you, “Will you lay down your life for me?” knowing full well exactly how many times you will deny Him, whether in your heart or in front of your friends or family. But take heart; He is praying constantly for you, and it is by His strength and grace alone that we can once again rise up to keep following Him every day of our lives.
(There’s actually a spiel on Luke 22, called The Comma of Grace. For a more eloquent explanation, go here: http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/03/2615/ )
Pray: “God, You saved me from Yourself, You saved me for Yourself, and You saved me all by Yourself.” Ask God to humble you and to really give you a heart to follow after Him, but not through your own strength or desires.