When Jesus met Simon, he recognized his leadership qualities. But he knew that Simon would need help. Jesus began by giving Simon a new name. He called him Peter, which means “rock.” Later, Jesus told Peter that he was to be the rock on which Jesus would build his Church. Although he had much strength, Peter had weaknesses, too. He complained that he and the other Apostles had given up everything to follow Jesus and wanted to know what he would get for this sacrifice (Matthew 16:27). At the Lord’s command, he walked on water, but then lost his faith in Jesus’ power and begin to sink in the sea (Matthew 14:31). At the Last Supper, Jesus told Peter that the time would come when Peter would deny knowing him. Peter angrily said it would never happen. Later that evening, Peter did deny three times that he knew the Lord or that he was one of his followers. Are you like Peter? Do you love God but you have weaknesses? Don’t feel bad, we all have some type of weakness or weaknesses. Do you love God but your weaknesses do not let you serve, obey or trust him completely? Do you praise him and then curse someone from the same mouth? Are you straddling the fence, you’re team Jesus but you live in this world so you say, “don’t judge me, I am not perfect.”? Saying a sin is really a weakness leads to rationalizing instead of repenting. Saying a weakness is a sin can result in shame, blame, despair, and giving up on God’s promises. Praying and talking with God can help us make these distinctions. Mistakes are a part of the natural learning process created by God. You cannot learn if you cannot make mistakes. God’s definition of perfection is simply to not sin by loving him first and people second. When Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), He was saying, “Let your love be complete as God’s love.” God loves all people, even evil ones. This is how we can be as “perfect” as God. While Satin is eager to use our weakness to entice us to sin, God can use human weakness to teach, strengthen, and bless us. Contrary to what we might expect or hope, however, God does not always “make weak thing become strong” unto us by eliminating our weakness. When Apostle Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove a “thorn in the flesh”, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 2: 7, 9,) In our ongoing battle with sin, God is not looking for perfect, externally performed behavior or perfect internally performed motivation from us. We must stop focusing on being perfect, and then using it as an excuse to sin. God doesn’t want us to focus on performing perfectly; he wants us to focus on living out a childlike, dependent faith through genuine acts of love. God goes to great lengths to expose the imperfect clay feet of the Bible’s faith heroes, we should learn from them. Just as Jesus gave Simon a new name, once we accept Jesus as our Savior and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we become a new person. I don’t believe that means we become sinless, but that we sin less because we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. I love knowing that when I am tempted or when I fall short, Holy Spirit is there to redirect me or even convict me if necessary. Thank you Jesus for leaving us with the Holy Spirit! Regardless of how imperfect we are or where we are in our relationship with Jesus, he will and can use the gifts and qualities he has placed within us for His purpose. We just have to let Him, he will not force us. When Peter recognized that the Lord’s prediction of his denials had come true, he was overcome with sadness and tears. I believe that is when he stopped straddling the fence and became the “rock” Jesus saw in him. He may have still had cowardly tendencies and may not have been perfect; but at the Pentecost, the real power of the Holy Spirit was shown when Peter rose to speak and three thousand souls were saved. How can we account for cowardly Peter’s boldness as he stood that day to preach before a multitude of people? The Holy Spirit filled Peter with all the gifts he needed to lead. In Jerusalem, Peter healed an incurable Cripple, who had been lame from birth. It was there that Peter preached his second recorded sermon. Five thousand men turned to Christ that day. Peter helped start the first church, worked miracles and baptized thousands. Peter should give us hope; God believed in him and loved him in spite of his weaknesses. God knows what we are made of, he made us. We can tackle the challenge of human weakness, we can learn charity, compassion, meekness, patience, courage, long-suffering, wisdom, stamina, forgiveness, resilience, gratitude, creativity, and a host of other virtues that make us more like our Father in Heaven. Then let the Potter do his work to mold us. God’s love, wisdom, and redemptive power is evident in His ability to turn our struggle with human weakness into the invaluable godly virtues and strengths that make us more like Him. Please read today’s scriptures in “Food for the Soul”. Much Love….