Summary: The fourth of four messages on the four greatest threats to our spiritual idenitity.

Pickpocketed by the Past

April 2, 2006

Matthew 26:31-35; 69-75

Intro: In an old Candid Camera episode, an actor on a busy sidewalk begins looking at the ground as if he is trying to find something lost. As he begins searching, the people passing by give him some strange looks. Then after a few minutes, he decides to get down on his hands and knees and feel around w/ his hands, and before long, one of the people watching stoops down and begin to help. Soon another person joins and the next thing you know the camera shows about a dozen people looking w/ him – some on their hands and knees! At that point, the actor, who got all this started, quietly gets up and walks away. No one else notices that he leaves. They’re so intent in their search that they never bother to ask what it was they were looking for.

Trans: In some ways this story is depictive of our search to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts. Too many of us follow the crowd in a desperate search to find something of value that might fill the hole. We’re like the blind leading the blind hoping our relationships, appearance, and success might fill the void – but they won’t

Trans: Over the past (3) weeks we’ve been investigating the culprits of spiritual I.D. theft. We’ve looked at how to avoid being, Robbed by Relationships, Mugged by the Mirror, and Stolen by Success. This AM, we’re going to finish our study by looking at (3) principles for avoiding being Pickpocketed by the Past.

Trans: To be pickpocketed is a very personal crime. It is to be robbed and accosted by someone w/out you knowing it. A pickpocket targets your person to violate you.

Trans: In the Bible we find many people who were targeted by the master pickpocket – Satan. Today we are going to focus on a few beginning w/ Peter.

Note: Peter was likely the most bold and outspoken of the disciples. From the moment Jesus called him to the day he breathed his last breath, Peter was the “bull-in-the-china-shop” disciple. He had flashes of brilliance – like the time he stepped out of the boat and onto the water w/ Jesus, but he also had a few train-wreck decisions – one that even prompted Jesus to tell him, “Get behind me Satan.”

But I want you to think about his failures for a moment. While he got out of the boat and is the only man to ever walk on water, he took his eyes off Jesus b/c he feared the storm. Then there’s the time he argued w/ Jesus over the washing of his feet; and the time when he cut off the ear of Malcuhus in at Jesus’ arrest. But there is no greater mistake than when he promised Jesus he’d stand w/ him even unto death, but denied him (3) times instead. (Read Mt. 26:31-35; 69-75)

Trans: Peter didn’t lie, cheat, or murder like Moses, David, or Paul, but he did have a colossal faith meltdown that nearly allowed him to be pickpocketed by his past.

Note: As one of the (12) and one of Jesus’ closest friends, on the day Jesus was arrested, Peter not only abandoned Jesus, but he denied ever knowing Him! Thankfully though, Peter’s sin and betrayal of Jesus didn’t ruin him or God’s plans for him. B/c after Christ arose from the dead He not only forgave him but re-commissioned him as an apostle. (Read Jn. 21:14-17)

Note: What’s the point – that sin isn’t wrong and bad? No. All of these men suffered difficult consequences for their sins. The point is that even the worst sins don’t have to pickpocket your life or alter God’s plans for you. God can take both the sin and the sinner and use them to accomplish His divine purposes.

Story: Consider Charles Colson, the aide to President Nixon who was sent to jail b/c of Watergate. Did you know that as a result of his mistakes, this former convicted felon founded Prison Fellowship – the world’s largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families? Prison Fellowship has more than 50,000 volunteers working in prisons in 88 countries. And it got its start 25 years ago b/c Colson crime.

Point: All things can and do work together for the good for those who are called according to God’s purposes (Rm. 8:28) Translated – God can take even sin and death and turn it into something glorious for the sake of his kingdom. I think Beth Moore said it correctly, God has both a will for our lives and a purpose for that will.

Trans: But let’s be honest. The story that matters most to you isn’t Peter’s, Paul’s, David’s or Charles’ – it’s your story! Truth is many of us have a past filled w/ hurts and regrets that hold us hostage from experiencing God’s best in a blessed future. We don’t think God can do something good thru our regrets and mistakes – but He can.

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