Cornerstone will be having its annual church camp this week at the KSL Resort in Johor Bahru. The theme for the camp is “Face-to- Face”. I suspect many of you are like me in needing to experience a fresh encounter with the Lord. Are you preparing for it, are you desperate and in need of a fresh touch?
The theme verses feature the fruits of Jacob’s determined anguish as he engages God at Penuel (Gen 28:30). I want to zero in on the preceding two verses: Gen 32:26-27 “And he said, ‘Let me go, for the day breaketh.’ And he said, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’ And he said unto him, ‘What is thy name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’”
There are two things to note in the above verses. First, Jacob recognises the significance of this encounter; he’s not about to let this opportunity pass by. Secondly, he acknowledges the truth with regard to his nature of deceit. He was not just revealing his name, but a character trait that had plagued him since his youth. This encounter resulted in a new name and authority for Jacob (Israel).
The apostle Peter is another disciple who comes to mind who was in need of a fresh encounter. I think we easily identify with Peter because we see ourselves in areas of his weaknesses. Peter had an interesting discourse with the Lord after the Resurrection. He was commissioned by the Lord with regard to his future ministry involving the lambs and sheep that would later be entrusted to his care (Jn 21:15-17.) At the same time, the Lord asked Peter if he had the capacity of “agape” love for Him (Jn 21:15-16). Think about the timing of this encounter Peter is having with the Lord.
It was just a few days earlier where Peter denied the Lord on three occasions: Luke 22:61-62 “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the Word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
Jesus is presenting the goal of a far-reaching ministry that could only be accomplished through an agape love capacity; something Peter was lacking at this particular moment. Does this not give us hope? I’m sure Peter was well aware of his weaknesses as he basked in this beautiful discourse with the Lord. Is it not amazing that the Lord continues to speak amazing promises to us in spite of our flaws and imperfections?
What happens next with Peter serves as a template for us. The Lord seems to come alongside Peter and meets him at his level. Jesus now uses the same word for love (“phileo”) that Peter expressed in his previous responses (Jn 21:17). He then goes on to inform Peter that up till now he carried himself in his own strength, but the time was at hand when another would gird, strengthen and lead him. Jesus was introducing Peter to a fresh revelation of the Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Peter truly loved the Lord, but he had no ability to fulfill the call and ministry in of himself; and neither do we.
A few days later, Peter and the others were gathered in an upper room where they experienced a life-changing encounter. The leaders became empowered by the Holy Spirit resulting in the immediate expansion of the Early Church. Their Pentecost needs to become our own. Are you aware that this Sunday (June 4) is Pentecost Sunday? Is it possible for us to have a similar encounter?
Perhaps you can identify with Jacob in needing to be changed. Are you desperate for God? Are you willing to acknowledge and embrace the Truth and be liberated by it? Perhaps you can relate to Peter – you love God, have precious promises, yet feel inadequate due to known struggles and limitations. God is positioning Cornerstone for a face-to-face encounter with Him. Are we desperate for it, and do we truly long for another Pentecost? Let’s lay hold of God and avail of this defining moment.