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|Posted on October 25, 2016 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Session 9 - 1 Peter 5:12-14 – Alert Living – Day 5
1 Peter 5:12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Silvanus may be the same person as Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). He may have simply been the letter carrier but most likely served as Peter’s secretary, writing as Peter dictated, or as Susan would say, “He was Peter’s ‘tater.” Susie is my tater, my facilitator. She types what I say since I do not yet have a computer that I am able to operate by myself (prayer request!!) Peter trusted Sylvanus as a true believer and confidant. Peter summarized his purpose for writing this letter, to testify to the grace of God. Peter was a living witness to the truth of the grace of God demonstrated by Jesus in the flesh and culminating with His substitutionary atonement for us on the cross. Peter then admonishes the readers to stand firm in the fact of God’s saving grace.
Peter passed on greetings from the church in “Babylon” which is probably a reference to the church in Rome. He also sent them greetings from Mark, calling him his “son in the faith.” Peter discipled Mark, a.k.a. John Mark. Therefore, he referred to him as his son in the faith. John Mark had traveled with Paul on his first missionary journey, disappointing him by turning back. However, Barnabas the encourager took John Mark on a missionary journey with him. Later, Mark wrote the gospel bearing his name which most people believe was told from Peter’s point of view due to their mentoring relationship.
What did Peter mean by a “kiss of love?” A brotherly, sisterly, kiss on the cheek was a common greeting in Jewish and middle-eastern culture both then and now.
1 Peter 5:14 (AMPC) Salute one another with a kiss of love [the symbol of mutual affection]. To all of you that are in Christ Jesus (the Messiah), may there be peace (every kind of peace and blessing, especially peace with God, and freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts). Amen (so be it).
Peter signs off this letter with a hope, a prayer, and an exhortation that these persecuted Christians will have God’s peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)
Challenge: We don’t write many snail-mail letters or even cards these days. We do everything online or even on our phones. Take the time to write a letter or email of encouragement to someone and begin or end it with a biblical style greeting. May seem weird to say, “Grace and peace to you,” at first; but maybe it will catch on.
|Posted on September 6, 2016 at 5:40 PM||comments (0)|
Psalm 3:5-8 (KJV) - God Keeps Guard While David Sleeps
Psalm 3:5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
David laid down to sleep in the middle of the battle campground. He woke up alive! The Lord preserved him. Since David was confident the Lord was watching out for him, he could sleep peacefully. He did not have to stay awake and keep watch because he trusted that the Lord was keeping watch over him.
Psalm 3:6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Is David a bit cocky, or what? David had seen what God had done with five smooth stones and a sling. And he had only had to use one of the five stones! (1 Samuel 17:49) His band of 200 soldiers defeated a much larger Amalekite army due to the Lord’s enablement (1 Samuel 30:23). David’s confidence in his God began even before those battles as the Lord enabled him to kill both the lion and bear in order to protect his sheep (1 Samuel 17:37).
Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Reformation Study Bible:
3:7 Arise. This expression is typical of psalms sung at the beginning of war. God fights for His people against their flesh and blood enemies.
Pretty graphic! God is going to backhand the enemies and break out their teeth. Lest we think we should run around doing likewise, we must read verse 8.
Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
God is in control, and we must act under His leadership. Does this mean that God’s children will always be delivered? No, when persecuted Christians are martyred, their souls are received immediately into Jesus’ arms. In other words, we are not always delivered from harm here on this earth, but all believers will ultimately be beyond the reach of any harmful thing. Read Acts 7:55-60 and Hebrews chapter 11 for examples of those who died because of their faith in God.
Q – Do you sleep peacefully at night, secure in the fact that God is in control? When people attack your faith in Jesus, are you confident that He will enable you to stand for Him?
|Posted on June 12, 2016 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
A New Commandment
John 13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
As soon as Judas left to betray Him, Jesus began instructing the remaining disciples about His glorification, a new command, and His eminent departure. Judas would not need this teaching since He did not truly believe as these faithful ones did, and, therefore, would not become one of Jesus’ witnesses. The lessons in the next few chapters were for the faithful, those chosen to be His apostles, His ambassadors to the ends of the earth. He saved the “family lessons” until the imposter left the supper.
Jesus spoke of the crucifixion and His subsequent glorification as already fulfilled. Since the betrayal was in progress, God’s plan was irrevocably set in motion. Earlier, Jesus had stated, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) His obedience in going to the cross would ultimately bring glory to the Father by redeeming those chosen to be in His forever family. Jesus’ complete meekness in humbly serving, being betrayed, tied to a whipping post, and finally crucified was actually a display of perfect strength and extravagant love to carry out the Father’s will, to fulfill the purpose for which He had been implanted in the virgin Mary’s womb. Jesus was looking past all this to the time after His resurrection when He would return to the Father’s side in His completely glorified state.
John 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’
Since Jesus was the teacher, and His disciples were the students, they were like children. Children follow the example of their parents or their teacher, so Jesus lovingly addressed them as little children before giving them important instructions. Pay attention, disciples! Jesus didn’t have much time left in which to teach them all they would need to know after His return to the Father. We should pay attention as well because the next three chapters are Jesus’ final instructions to the Apostles, and there is much we can glean from them!
Back in chapter 8, we discussed that Jesus told the Jews they could not follow Him where He was going. Now He said the same thing to the eleven. They could not immediately follow Jesus to the Father because He was leaving them here as His witnesses. Jesus was about to fulfill the purpose for which He was born, and then they would remain here to complete the mission to which Jesus commissioned them. As each of them completed his earthly service, he would pass through the portal of physical death and into the arms of His Savior.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
How did Jesus love? Jesus loved through words, but He had corresponding actions that demonstrated His love. He loved by example. Jesus loved wholeheartedly and unconditionally. The disciples were sinners just like you and me, but Jesus loved them as His own brothers. Jesus loved them better than His brothers because the disciples wanted to do the will of the Father, and at this point His biological half-brothers were not living that way. In fact, His bio-brothers did not believe Him to be the Son of God until after His death and resurrection! However, Jesus still drew His bio-brothers into His family when they finally woke up and believed. At one point all we who believe were dead in our sin, but when the Lord drew us to Him and we trusted in Jesus we died TO our sin and were re-created, awakened in His righteous ness. Jesus loved so intensely that He willingly died an excruciating, demoralizing death on the cross for His people, both Jews and Gentiles. As Christians, we are to love as He loved – sacrificially. We are enabled to love sacrificially when we trust in Jesus. We are only capable of this kind of love through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We are to be known by our love for each other. How will people see this love? It’s not a love that emptily flatters, that gives trinkets of affection with no real intimacy. Our love is to be different than that seen in the world at large. What do we do to demonstrate that love in such a way that the world will notice and give glory to God? I’ve often heard it said, “Love is a verb.” A verb is an action word. Being there, really present, when people are in distress meaning NOT on your cell phone but truly listening and caring is loving. Another demonstration of love is meeting material needs. The church members taking food, clothing, and even money to families in a time of crisis is an action visible to non-Christians. We can take care of someone’s children while they are at the hospital with their spouse or another child. Mowing an elderly member’s lawn, taking someone shopping or delivering groceries to someone confined to home due to age or illness, praying with a brother or sister. If you are unable to get out, you can pray over the phone with another believer to encourage them or write a note in a card and mail it or even communicate as we do today by taking advantage of social media outlets. If you think about it for a few minutes, I am sure you can find a way to love your brother or sister in Christ!
John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
Peter was stuck on the statement that Jesus was leaving. He wanted to know exactly where He intended to go. Jesus assured Peter that even though he could not follow Him right then, he would be able to later. The disciples had a very important job to do – spreading the gospel to all nations.
John 13:37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Peter’s bravado surfaced as usual and he told Jesus he would follow him even to death. Peter truly believed he would be willing to die for Jesus. In Peter’s heart, he wanted to die for Jesus, but his flesh, his human frailty got the best of him. Eventually, Peter would be strengthened by the Lord and would die a martyr’s death but not right away.
John 13:38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Jesus prophesied again. I guess I never thought of it that way before, but you are exactly right! I’m not sure I thought of it exactly that way until just now myself. LOL. As God, Jesus knew the future that Peter would deny ever knowing Him. Must have been hard for Peter to hear. Peter’s heart would be shattered when this prediction came true, and He would be deeply ashamed and mortified that he could deny the Lord. We’re getting ahead of the story, but many of you know the outcome anyway.
Q – Love one another as I have loved you. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But is it easy to love as Jesus loved? Can we love the person who is acting in a very unlovable way? Can we love the believer who is living on the street and covered in filth? We cannot do it alone. The only way we can truly love as Jesus loved is if His Holy Spirit is doing it through us. We must be surrendered to Him and controlled by His love in order to love as He commands us to love.
|Posted on February 13, 2016 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
Those who have been discipled by Paul, his students who have received instruction from him, are his joy and crown. We cannot take things to Heaven with us, but those we have introduced to Christ, those we have mentored in the Lord, will be with us there and cause us to rejoice in all the Lord has done. Those we have discipled are living trophies to the faithfulness of God who works through our lives. Paul urges the Philippians to stand firm on what he has already taught and the instructions in the verses that follow. The readers must be in a cooperative partnership with the Lord by His grace in order to “stand firm.”
Q – Are there people who will rejoice in Heaven because of you? Will you be rejoicing over those you had the privilege to influence by the power of the Lord?
Philippians 4:2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
The two women, Euodia and Syntyche, must have been pillars of the Philippian church because Paul says they contended by his side for the Gospel. They were obviously in some type of disagreement. Paul wanted them to not necessarily be of the same opinion but in the very least to “agree to disagree” and move forward. Paul wanted them to have unity even if they did not completely see eye to eye. He urges his “true companion” to help them in this. He says that they worked along with Clement (who is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible) and his other co-laborers. He says all their names are written in the book of life, so we know all of these people were believers.
Q – Are you at odds with a fellow believer? Read Matthew 5:23-24
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul emphasizes rejoicing by repeating it. Remember that he is writing this letter from prison! We can rejoice even in dire circumstances because the source of our joy is the Lord and is not conditional upon what happens around us. That being said, joy is a choice of aligning ourselves with God’s will. By doing this, we can be certain that God has our backs. The Captain of heavenly hosts, our Chief Advocate and Defender goes before us into battle and is our rear guard as well. We can rejoice because we are confident in His care.
Psalm 139:5 (VOICE) “You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.”
Q – Are you rejoicing always? If not, what is stealing your joy?
Philippians 4:5 (NIV) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
We should be characterized by a gentle nature. This is the nature of our Good Shepherd with whom we are to be “like-minded.” We are to be inextricably linked with Christ. This type of person does not demand his/her rights, but looks out for others. I have been demanding, defiant, and obstinate when I felt I was not being heard. I have let my flesh get the best of me rather than deferring to the other person for the sake of peace. A self-righteous attitude steals your joy. Being self-less maintains a joy-filled heart. The Lord is near due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are to live as though His return may be tomorrow or today.
Matthew 24:36 (NASB) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
Matthew 24:42 (NASB) “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
Q – How often do we demand our rights? Do we have a gentle spirit?
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Do not nervously pace or fret concerning ANYTHING. Paul purposely uses the all-inclusive “anything” and “every”. We can apply this truth to ALL situations. This is difficult for me to handle. I know I am not supposed to worry, but in the moment it is sometimes hard to remember to pray rather than to fret. It takes intentional trust and reliance on my relationship with Jesus not to fret. Forsaking worry and turning to prayer is a deliberate act of worship and confidence in God. The act of praying actually helps to calm the nervousness within me. Notice Paul says to pray and beseech the Lord WITH THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving along with our petition is evidence that we believe in faith that God supersedes what we see and feel with our senses and is ultimately in control.
When we hand our cares and concerns to God, He will replace them with unfathomable peace. Instead of being out of our minds with worry, we will be delivered from focusing on fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) and instead place our trust in the only One who can solve the problem. We will put our faith and our focus on the solution instead of the problem.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB) “6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Q – When you have an extreme problem, do you do everything you can to solve it on your own and pray as a last resort? Or do you pray first and then act once the Lord has calmed you?
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This is not an all-inclusive list of virtues but a representative group. Paul’s teaching here in Philippians 4:8 is a total contradiction of societal mores today. The mantra is “look out for number one” and “get them before they get you.” Paul would say prefer others above yourselves as he did in chapter two. Focusing on these positive attributes is contrary to the way of the world. Whatever is true – people do not value truth as they once did. We need laboriously long contracts to feel secure in our dealings. People do not want truth in business; they want expediency, the quickest means to an end. Whatever is noble – honest, honorable actions. Think of ways to live honorably among others. Whatever is right – Desire justice and kindness. Whatever is pure – purity is not as highly regarded as it once was. Society seems to idolize many impure people, thoughts, and actions. Just turn on the TV. Yet we are to fill our minds with pure thoughts. Any time people abstain or try to be pure, they are made fun of and chastised. Rather than being exalted for their standards, they are abased and called prudish. Whatever is lovely – pleasing, amiable, kind, gracious. We should fill our minds with ideas for acts of kindness, ways to show friendship (familyship), and how to extend the grace of God to each other. Whatever is admirable – according to John MacArthur Study Bible “kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.” Excellent or praiseworthy deeds should receive our attention rather than dwelling on all the evil of this world. Paul says to think on these things. Meditate on the positive rather than the negative. In other words, don’t get bogged down in the nightly news, but pray about it intentionally and keep your focus on the Captain of the Hosts who is “large and in charge.” He is the One who is truly in control of everything. Think on these positive attributes in order to emulate them in your own life. What we focus on is what will develop. This an aspect of “working out your salvation” as Paul instructed earlier. Paul is saying the Philippians should do what he has taught them and lived in front of them. They need to make all of these things evident in their daily lives.
Micah 6:8 (ESV) “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. People are the only investments we can deposit in Heaven. Work at taking some buddies with you to Heaven. Share Jesus with others, and as they receive Him, invest in their lives to help them grow. They will become your joy!
2. When was the last time you left your gift at the altar and sought out someone you needed to be reconciled with? Do you need to give or ask forgiveness? Settle matters sooner rather than later because tomorrow is not promised.
3. Rejoice – Count your blessings and see if they do not outweigh your complaints.
4. Try gentleness and acceptance rather than barking demands. The Lord does not expect us to be doormats, but in reality anything good we have is more than we deserve when we compare our paltry goodness with the righteousness of Jesus.
5. When a worry crosses your mind this week, turn it into a prayer and thank the Lord for the answer in advance.
6. Guard your thought life and think on the things in Philippians 4:8. This would be an excellent verse to commit to memory!