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Moments With The Master Series

Sermon #8

 

John 21:1-19

A TENDER MOMENT

 

Intro: There was a certain man who had been faithful in worshiping with other believers for many years. Then he became lax and stopped coming to the services. The pastor was burdened for his spiritual welfare, so one day he called in his home. The man invited him in and offered him a chair by the fire. The Pastor mentioned to the man how much missed seeing him in the worship services. The man replied that he was saved and saw no need to go to church. He felt that he could worship just fine at home.

For several long moments they sat in silence and watched the burning embers. Then, taking the tongs, the pastor removed a hot coal and laid it by itself on the hearthstone. As it began to cool, its red glow soon faded. The man, who had been expecting a verbal rebuke, quickly caught the message. He was at church for the next service!

This is a fact of life that I have become very familiar with over these last 21 years. There have been many occasions when I have failed the Lord and I seen the flame of love and devotion burn very low within my heart and life. When those times came around, I had to come before the Lord, confessing my sins and failures and seeking forgiveness and restoration. Each time I have come to Him for cleansing, I have found Him to be a faithful Friend to those who have fallen by the wayside.

Today, I would like to speak directly to those who aren’t as close to the Lord today as you should be. Maybe the things of God aren’t as sweet as they used to be. Maybe there isn’t a hot, burning love for the Lord, His house, His Word and His people like there used to be. Maybe even your church attendance has become a thing of drudgery and toil. My duty today is to tell you that it does not have to stay way! Jesus Christ is still the Friend of the fallen today.

In our text, we are told about a face to face encounter between the risen Lord Jesus and Simon Peter. It was Peter, you will remember, who denied the Lord 3 times. As we look into how the Lord handled Peter, I want you to know that He can and will do the same for you if you will respond in the correct manner. Its tough being out of the Lord’s will, but it is possible to make things right again! With that in mind, let’s take a few minutes to consider together A Tender Moment.

 

 

I. THE PURPOSE OF THIS TENDER MOMENT

A. To Confront Peter’s Failure - Matt. 26:69-75 (Ill. Before we can see how the Lord restored this fallen preacher, we must first understand what happened to Peter and how he came to be fallen in the first place.)

1. The Place Of His Failure - Peter was in the wrong place altogether. In the beginning, Peter had made his boast that he would never forsake the Lord, Luke 22:33-34. Yet, when the time came and Jesus was arrested, Peter, like all the others forsook Jesus and fled, Matt. 26:56. However verse 58 tells us that Peter decided to follow the Lord and see what happened, but that he followed Jesus “afar off.” When Peter found himself surrounded by the Lord’s enemies, it became hard for him to stand by his earlier boast. Now, he takes the low road and denies that he even know the Lord Jesus, v. 69-74.

 

(Ill. Essentially, all backsliding begins in the same manner! Instead of staying as close to the Lord as we should, we begin to follow Him “afar off.” It may begin as simply missing a few services here and there. Maybe you just stop praying like you should. Maybe the Bible isn’t opened and read as frequently as it ought to be. Wherever and however it begins, it will eventually lead to the same place. It will eventually lead you into a backslidden and cold condition! Peter’s problem was that he found himself in the wrong place with the wrong people!

Dear friends, being just a clear as I can be with you, some of you are in the wrong place also! You aren’t as close to the Lord as you used to be. You need to rekindle that old flame and make things right with Him. Being in the wrong place is dangerous! Just ask David - 2 Sam. 11:1-17.)

2. The Pain Of His Failure - When Peter denied the Lord that night, the Bible tells us that he went out and “wept bitterly.” Peter was miserable in his new condition. He knew that he had wronged the Lord. He knew that he had violated something very precious and sacred. He was a miserable man!

 

(Ill. So it is with every child of God who decides to walk away from the will of God. You will soon realize that sin brings with it pain, suffering and misery, Pro. 13:15. Gone will be the peace of God and the sense of God’s presence. Gone will be His power and that joy in the soul that is worth more than gold.

Sin is a thief and a robber! It steals youth and beauty. It destroys innocence and effectiveness. Sin has the ability to make you into a very miserable person! Ill. The Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-17. Was he happy in the pig pen when the friends and the money were gone? No! His primary thought was of how much better off he had been back in the Father’s house. Sin will make you miserable, and if it doesn’t, then you probably aren’t saved, Heb. 12:8!)

 

(Ill. God loves you so much that He will allow you to sin if you choose to; but, He loves you too much to allow you to enjoy it!)

 

3. The Price Of His Failure - After Peter sinned, he felt a definite loss of fellowship, peace and joy. He knew that things were different.

 

(Ill. I am speaking primarily to those who claim to know Jesus as the personal Savior today. You need to know that when you decide to walk a different way than the Lord intends, your decision carries with it a very high price tag. If you are saved, then you can expect to lose much when you walk away from the Lord. You can never lose your salvation, but you will feel like you have. You can most certainly lose your fellowship with the Lord. There will be the loss of peace, joy and contentment. There will be the loss of blessings and rewards. Sin is a cruel taskmaster and it will beat you silly. By the way, if you persist in your sin and rebel against the Lord’s efforts to call you home, then there is a sin unto death for the child of God, 1 John 5:16, Ill. 1 Cor. 5:5.)

 

B. To Confront Peter’s Foolishness His foolishness is revealed in:

1. His Choices - After the resurrection, Peter must have assumed that his ministry was over. He had denied the Lord and so he decided to return to the old way of life. I am sure that he might have tried to justify it by saying, “Well, I have a family to support. Whatever the motivation, Peter had been called to forsake all those things and to follow Jesus, Matt. 4:19. The Lord’s call had been a call to come and be a fisher of men!

 

(Ill. People who are out of God’s will always make the wrong choices! They always base the decisions on fleshly motives rather than spiritual ones. They have lost the ability to hear the voice of the Spirit. He is your moral compass and failing to hear Him will cause you to wander off course! There may be some here today who have started to go back to the old life. You may even be able to justify it to some degree, at least to your own satisfaction. But, you need to know today that if you are not following the Lord and loving Him like you should, like Peter, you too are backslidden and out of God’s will! That may sound harsh, but those are just the facts!)

 

(Ill. Your spiritual condition shows on you! It shows in the priority you place on the things of God. Don’t think for a minute that you are fooling anyone. No one, that is, but yourself!)

 

2. His Companions - When Peter went back to the old life, he took others with him. These other Disciples weren’t as sold out to the Lord as they should have been either! If they had been, they would have been waiting for their marching orders. After all, Jesus had told them to go into Galilee and wait for Him, Matt. 28:10.

 

(Ill. Have you noticed that sin loves company? When a person backslides, they usually aren’t content to go it all alone and they will try to drag others down with them. You see it in families all the time! One will get cold on the Lord and before long everyone in the family is out of God’s will.

What a shame it is when we feel the need to drag others into the same foolish pit into which we have placed our self! What’s equally sad is the fact that there always seems to be those who are willing to follow the wayward child of God! Why are things this way? Because we like to surround ourselves with people who are on about the same level as we are. If we are right with God, we want to be around others who are right with God. If we are out of God’s will, we feel rebuked by the lives of those who are living for the Lord and seek out those who are like we are. Sadly, we will often try to reproduce our spiritual temperature in the lives of those who are close to us. This is merely an effort to make self more comfortable.)

 

3. The Consequences - Peter and his cronies fished all the night long and did not catch a single fish! Most of these men had been professional fishermen before they met the Lord and this must have been a devastating thing to have to deal with. They toiled and labored all the night and produced nothing of value!

 

(Ill. This is just the way it works for those who are out in sin. No matter what they try to accomplish in their own strength, it always comes to naught! The Prodigal Son found this out as he sat in the pig pen and watched the hogs eat those husks. He couldn’t even fill his own belly through self effort! I would like to remind every person in this room today that you are totally dependent on Jesus Christ for everything, John 15:5. You can produce nothing of lasting value in your own effort! Some might argue that they have been living a slack Christian life and that they are still thriving and prospering materially and physically. May I remind you that both of those things are temporary and will soon pass away? In the final analysis, all that lasts are those things you do through Jesus, 1 Cor. 3:11-15. Many Christians will see their entire lives go up in flames before their very eyes! What will happen when you face Jesus?)

 

II. V. 4-17 THE PROVISION OF THIS TENDER MOMENT

(Ill. Even though Peter had wandered into sin, he still hadn’t gone so far that the Lord had stopped loving him! Peter still had a Friend in a very high place. That Friend made all the difference for Peter and He will for you also.)

A. V. 4-7 Jesus Found Peter - After the sin, after the return to the old life, after a long night of failure, Jesus stepped onto the scene and in a few minutes turned everything around and made things like they ought to be. What made the difference? There was a change in Peter. Notice three things that changed when Jesus came by:

1. V. 5 Peter was forced to admit his failure - This is the first step in coming back home. There must be an acknowledgment of sin and wrong doing, 1 John 1:9. (Ill. The Prodigal recognized this also - Luke 15:18.)

2. V. 6 Peter started to obey Jesus again - He stopped doing things Peter’s way and started doing them the Lord’s way. This brought success where there had been only failure!

3. V. 7 Peter has a renewed desire to be near the Lord - He wasn’t willing to wait for a more convenient time but went to meet the Lord immediately. (Ill. This was also true of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15:20a)

 

(Ill. If you are one of those who have wandered away from the Father’s house and are presently walking in the far country, then you need to know that you still have a Friend in Jesus. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forsaken you. He still loves you as much right now as He ever has. He just wants you to come to the place Peter came to. He wants you to be willing to confess your sins, begin again to follow Him and just love Him like you ought to. By the way, no matter where you run, the Lord will find you. He will not let you get away. He has too much invested in your life. Why not come home right now before things really get tough? Why not repent while there is still time to serve the Lord this side of the grave?)

 

B. V. 9-14 Jesus Fed Peter - When Peter, and the other Disciples, reached the shore; they found that Jesus had a fire prepared with fish already cooking. They found there, with the Savior, all the things they needed after being out on that boat all night long. They found food, warmth and fellowship. They found a Savior who loved them and who had all the provisions in place that they needed. Everything they lacked out on that boat, they found when they came to Jesus!

 

(Ill. Dear friends, some of you have toiled and labored since you have been away from the Lord. You’re miserable, there is no peace and no joy in your life and you need to get right with the Lord. Let me encourage you today to come back to Jesus. When you do, you will find that He still loves you and that He has all the things you lacked while you were away from Him.

This is illustrated very clearly in the parable of The Prodigal Son. When that boy, who had squandered the family fortune, disgraced the family name and allowed himself to wallow in the depths of sin, came home, he found a father who had everything waiting for him that he had lacked in the far country. He found:

1. V. 20 A Waiting Father

2. V. 20 Compassion

3. V. 20 Love

4. V. 20 Forgiveness

5. V. 22 Cleansing

6. V. 22 Total Restoration

7. V. 23 Food For His Hungry Soul

I am here to tell you today that if you will return to the Father today, you find all this and more waiting on you in the Lord Jesus. He loves you and desires to have close fellowship with you. Why not come home today and find out for yourself that there is a Friend for the fallen.

 

C. V. 15-17 Jesus Freed Peter - In these verses, we find the Lord Jesus re-commissioning Simon Peter for service. I am sure that Peter felt that his work and ministry was forever gone, but Jesus came to call him back into the fight! This was a time of unique fellowship and restoration between Jesus and Simon Peter. In these few verses, Jesus freed Peter from the bondage of his sin and failure and set him back about the business of serving the Lord and His church.

 

(Ill. The same will be true for every backslidden child of God who returns to the Father’s house today. Not only will He forgive your sins, but He can restore you to a place of service for His glory. He will put you back on the battle field. He longs to meet with you today and to put you back into that place of service. You still have a Friend in Jesus regardless of how far you have fallen!)

 

IV. V. 18-19 THE PROMISE OF THIS TENDER MOMENT

(Ill. What would the future hold for this restored man of God? These verses tell us the answer to that question. Notice:

A. V. 18-19a The Promise Of Sacrifice - Peter would eventually give his life for the Lord who had saved him and who had restored Him. Peter’s call was literally to follow Jesus unto the death. Tradition states that Peter was eventually put to death by crucifixion and that at his own request; he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die like his Lord.

 

(Ill. If you decide to come home today and make a renewed commitment to the Lord Jesus, you need to know that this thing is serious! God expects you to be serious about your decision and He expects you to follow Him in a sacrificial lifestyle that places His will above your own. That is the only formula for true success in the Christian life!)

 

B. V. 19b The Promise Of Service - Peter is told that his life, from this moment forward, is to glorify the Lord! He is no longer to live for self, but in everything, he is to live for the glory of God.

 

(Ill. God’s plan is the same for every born again child of God! His will is that you and I live lives that are pleasing in His sight and that bring glory and honor to His wonderful Name, 1 Cor. 10:31. There are no doubt many who need to come today and repent of living for self, make a change and get up to live for Jesus!)

 

C. V. 19c The Promise Of Surrender - The last things Jesus does is to give Peter this command, “Follow Me! The last call is the same as the first. When Jesus found Peter and called him the first time, this was His command, Matt. 4:19. When he re-commissions Peter, He issues the same call. This tells us that the Lord hasn’t changed His mind about Peter, or about Peter’s duty before the Lord.

 

(Ill. Regardless of how deep you may have fallen into sin, please know today that the Lord hasn’t changed His mind about you! You might want to repent and come home to Him, but feel that if you do you will be some kind of second class saint. That is just not true! God gives the same command to you today that He gave to Peter then, “Follow me! All Jesus wants from you is a surrendered life; one that is lived for the glory of God; one that exalts Him and one that is lived in His will and service. He simply wants you to follow Him!) (Ill. Jonah – God is the God is the second-chance!)

 

Conc: I would like to bring this message to a close by asking, “What does your future hold for you? Does it hold chastisement, misery and difficulty? Or, does it hold joy, peace, blessing and glory for the Lord? The answer all depends on what you do right now.

Some of you, like Peter, may be toiling while Jesus stands calling out to you today. Please understand that you do not have to remain at a distance from Him today. If this message has found you lost and on your way to Hell, then I invite you to come to Jesus right now. He loves you and wants to save your soul. I know I have preached primarily to saved people, and what they will face if they do not repent is bad. But, dear lost friend, if you do not come to Jesus, you are eternally lost and are headed to Hell with no hope. Forever lost, forever doomed and forever damned. Do not let that happen to you. If this message found you backslidden, then I invite you to come back to the Father’s House right now. He stands ready to receive, to forgive and to restore, if you will only come back home.

I have delivered the message as it was delivered to me. Now, the final decision is yours. What will it be? Tough or tender, you decide!

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