Tuning In To God’s Voice – Peter’s Object Lessons

by Andy Wood on May 9, 2008

in Insight, Life Currency

Casting netsHow do you learn best?  Mark Meadows used to amaze me in third grade.  He’d just sit there.  Never write.  Never raise his hand to answer a question.  Just sit and listen.  And make “A’s.”

Cameron Walker?  Never stopped moving.

Me?  I don’t think I ever stopped running my mouth.  (Hey!  I heard that!)

We all learned.  We just did it in different ways.

The same is true of people in the Bible.  Guys like Paul could go off into the desert for three years and think about stuff.  Analyze things.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, rehash everything he’d ever believed (incorrectly) about the Law.

Our buddy Peter was different.  From the day He met Peter, Jesus began transforming him from a “man of fish” to a man of God.  Like Moses before him, Peter learned with pictures and visual objects.  Things like coins and nets and fish and swords.  I’d like to show you a few objects Jesus used to teach Peter to hear God’s voice.  I think you can learn, too.  Even if you learn best by talking or sitting there listening, I’ll bet you can pick up a few important lessons from Peter’s experience.

1.  The Lesson of the Nets:  Start where you are and imagine the possibilities.

Peter and Andrew were casting nets.  It was honorable work, and many families along the Sea of Galilee earned their living in commercial fishing.  But Jesus used the strength and versatility of Peter’s nets to call for more.

“Follow me,” Jesus said.  “I will make you fishers of men.”  Down went the nets.  Off went Peter and Andrew.

God will speak to you in your present situation, but often calls you to dream of something greater.  Had that been you instead of Peter, chances are you wouldn’t have been casting a net for fish.  What would you have been using to make a living?  How might Jesus have used your laptop, your drill press, your calculator, your truck to elevate your dreams to Kingdom status?

2.   The Lesson of the Hem:  Listen for God’s voice in the “noise riot.”

A huge crowd was thronging Jesus one day – pressing in from every side.  Suddenly, a woman touched the hem of his garment and was healed of a 12-year hemorrhage.  Jesus, ever sensitive, stopped the processional and asked, “Who touched me?”  Peter, often insensitive, chortled, “everybody’s pressing in on you, and you have to ask?  But Jesus insisted.

Hearing God sometimes means being about to cut through the noise and pay attention to the signal.  I once heard about a guy who studied crickets.  Don’t ask me why.  But he could distinguish the sound of 17 different kinds of crickets (none of whom sang with Buddy Holly).  When things are crazy and the life noise is deafening, can you “find the hem of His garment?”  Can you hear His still, small voice?

3.  The Lesson of the Tents – Shut up and listen!

There atop the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter came up with a bright idea.  “Lord, it’s good to be here.  Why don’t I just build us three tents – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  Suddenly a bright cloud enveloped them and a voice trumpeted, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!

Left to our own devices, we build tents when God wants to build kingdoms.  That’s why He calls us to listen to the voice of His Son.  He doesn’t need your help.  He sure doesn’t need your advice.  He’s just looking for an open heart.  Peter learned that the hard way.  Peter learned a lot  of things the hard way.  Clearly for all of us, it’s a lot harder to listen when you feel obligated to do the talking.  For us guys, it’s impossible.

Stormy Sea4.  The lesson of the Boat:  Be willing to leave your comfort zone.

One night on a stormy sea these trained, experienced boatsmen faced their perfect storm.  Suddenly, with the waves crashing and their hands full of runaway boat, the disciples saw something that filled their hearts with terror.

They saw a ghost.

“Relax!” he said.  “It is I.”

Great.  A talking ghost.

Then Peter, having the courage and fortitude that nobody else had, blurted out:  “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.”

“Come on,” said Jesus, and the adventure was on.  Peter leaps over the edge.  And he’s walking.  On water.  Until he takes his eyes off Jesus.  And down he goes, into the soup.  The other eleven?  They were playing it safe, huddled in their sinking boat, afraid of the ghost.  Most of us?  We wouldn’t even be in the boat; we’d watch about it on the Discovery Channel.

God reveals himself to those who trust him enough to risk – even if they don’t get it right the first time.

Garden5.  The Lesson of the Garden:  Wait!  Tarry!  Don’t be in a hurry with the Lord.

It’s a question that may have haunted Peter for the rest of his life, had he let it.  “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”Gardens are quiet places.  I’m sure you know, Peter wasn’t exactly a quiet man.  Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow and needed strength and peace.  Peter was overwhelmed with tired and needed a nap.

God discloses his choicest secrets and offers renewed strength to those who will “tarry with Him.”  Learn to be still.  Learn to offer that still support to those who need you.  Learn to listen for God in the stillness.  Turn off the noise makers in your life and find a garden of your own.  Wait a while.  Jesus wasn’t the only one talking in the Garden that night; His father talked back.  Peter?  Never made it to the conversation.

6.  The Lesson of the Sword:  Stop fighting, and stop trying to be somebody you are not.

It won’t go down as the most famous thing Jesus ever said, but Peter sure remembered it.  “Peter, put your sword up!”

What is a fisherman doing with a sword?

God speaks most clearly when we are in alignment with His purposes.  Peter’s attempt at heroism completely missed the mark (and almost missed the head of the high priest’s servant).  Have you ever had a hard time hearing from the Lord because you were trying to be somebody you weren’t?  Or trying to be a hero in your own strength?  Or charging into a fight that wasn’t yours to fight?  Put down your sword.  Listen instead.

7.  The lesson of the Rooster:  Pay attention to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

On the roughest night of Peter’s life, he winds up calling down curses on himself and swearing that he didn’t know Jesus.  Suddenly the sound of a crowing rooster pierced his conscience as he remembered Jesus’ words:  “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter went outside and wept bitterly.

At this point, the hearing lesson isn’t about the promises you’ve made to God.  It’s about what to do when you know you’ve blown it.  Be assured, the Holy Spirit will gladly let you know when that has happened.  When He does, admit it, quit it, and forget it.  I appreciate the fact that Peter never wallowed in his failure.

Neither should you.

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