Our Recent News
|Posted on September 17, 2016 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
Session 4 - 1 Peter 2 – Living as Strangers – Day 1
1 Peter 2:11 (HCSB) Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.
Why does Peter refer to these Christians as strangers and temporary residents? Is it simply because they have had to flee to these other cities in Asia, or is there a meaning that applies to us as well? Those who believe in Jesus are aliens, strangers, on this place called earth. Our permanent residence and citizenship is in Heaven. We are pilgrims while we live here.
From The MacArthur Bible Commentary:
Peter called his readers to a righteous life in a hostile world. Christians are foreigners in a secular society because their citizenship is in heaven.
We are to abstain from earthly appetites. This includes not only sexual temptations but other sins that appeal to our earthly desires.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We are literally to push these desires away from us which we are only enabled to do by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. We are not to give in to ungodly appetites.
1 Peter 2:12 Conduct yourselves honorably(2570) among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.
The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
2570 – kalŏs – beautiful, good, valuable or virtuous, better, fair, good, honest, meet, well, worthy
We are to live “above reproach” among non-believers. The Christians Peter was addressing in this letter were being falsely accused of atheism (not worshipping the emperor or Roman gods), cannibalism (a misunderstanding of communion), immorality (because of the command to love one another and greeting with a holy kiss), and even terrorism (It is held that Nero burned Rome and blamed the Christians). The Christians’ good conduct was supposed to refute the false perceptions about them. Their good behavior would be evidence that these accusations were not true. Also, the way they conducted themselves among non-believers could be a catalyst for some of those people to trust in Jesus, thus bringing glory to God. The “visitation” of the Lord could be in judgement or to pronounce blessings. The people that were drawn to the Lord through the Holy Spirit enabling Christians to live godly lives would glorify God as their lives were changed by Him.
Question: Have you ever been falsely accused? Were you able by consistent, good conduct to change a person’s opinion of you? In light of this passage, are there any attitudes and behaviors you need to push away from you right now? Pray the Lord will enable you to live in a way that brings honor and glory to His name.
|Posted on May 26, 2016 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Grain of Wheat
John 12:20 (ESV) Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.
These Greeks were probably “God-fearers” rather than Jewish proselytes. They were people who worshipped the God of the Jews and participated in synagogue but had not fully converted or undergone circumcision. The Reformation Study Bible points out the irony of Greeks approaching the disciples for an audience with Jesus when the Pharisees had just said, “Look, the world has gone after him.” Most of the Jewish religious elite snubbed and did not believe Jesus and His teachings, but they were up in arms that the rest of the world was now showing interest in Him. This could also fuel their fire that Rome could see Jesus as causing an uprising.
John 12:21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
John MacArthur states, “At the very moment when the Jewish authorities were plotting to kill Him, Gentiles began to desire His attention.” They asked Philip if they could see Jesus. Philip told Andrew, and together Philip and Andrew told Jesus. The request had to travel through the disciple pipeline to reach Jesus. John does not record any direct reply from Jesus. Instead, Jesus begins an illustration of the spread of the Gospel which would ultimately reach the Gentiles including Greeks.
John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
HIS TIME HAD NOW ALMOST COME! With the entry into Jerusalem we are now studying what is known as “The Passion Week,” which is the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the end of the beginning of the Gospel message. Jesus was about to be crucified. How would that glorify Him? He was glorified in the eyes of the Father and ultimately in our eyes because He was fulfilling His purpose. We have the opportunity to be His forever and ever because of what He accomplished on the cross. We praise and glorify Jesus not only as Creator but also Savior and Sustainer of those who belong to Him.
John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
I love to garden. If I plant one tomato seed, it dies but from it grows a plant that bears many tomatoes. I once had a tomato plant that bore well over 100 cherry tomatoes! Then each tomato contains several seeds which in turn can become plants. When the seed dies, it produces much fruit. Jesus was willing to die in order to produce the fruit of believers who would in turn produce multiplied fruit due to their spreading the message of His death, burial, and resurrection (the Gospel). Thus, those adopted into God’s forever family would increase exponentially. Dawson Trotman who founded the Navigators urged each person being discipled to find two more people to disciple, and each of those to disciple two, etc. Thus the Gospel spreads like pyramid marketing!
John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
We, too, must die in order to produce fruit. We must die to ourselves and self-love, in the sense of putting ourselves above God’s will, in order to bear fruit. We have to learn to put God’s will first in our lives and place loving others as a priority. We must love ourselves because God loves us and in order to love others, but we must not place ourselves above the Lord. Disciples cannot cling to life but must be willing to give up life if necessary to stay true to Jesus.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
If a person is following the Lord and has life in proper perspective, he or she will fulfill what Christ desires for him or her as His ambassadors and as made in His image. We lose ourselves in the sense that we no longer claim a right to ourselves but are totally surrendered to our Lord and Master. But if a person loses his/her physical, earthly life in service to Jesus, they have simply moved into the presence of the Lord which is to be more alive than possible on earth.
Philippians 1:21 (VOICE) For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me. 22 So, if it’s His will that I go on serving here, my work will be fruitful for the message. I honestly wouldn’t know how or what to choose; 23 I would be hard-pressed to decide. I lean toward leaving this world to be with the Anointed One because I can only think that would be much better. 24 To stay in this body of flesh—even with all its pains and weaknesses—would best serve your needs.
Paul expressed these ideas quite well in the passage from Philippians above. Dying is to be with the Lord, but living is to be in obedience and service to Him. Life in Christ is a win-win situation!
John 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
So the object is to be “with” Jesus whether physically or spiritually by obeying Him. We must follow His lead whether that be to remain in the flesh sharing the Gospel message or to exit our “earth-suit” as Susan calls it and be with Him in Heaven. If we are in obedience to Jesus, serving the Lord, God will honor us.
Q – If you have been baptized into the body of believers, the minister may have said, “Buried with Christ in baptism; Raised to walk in newness of life,” or something similar. Have you died to yourself in order to be born anew in the family of God? As a Christian are you daily dying to selfish ambition in order to be that grain of wheat that dies in order to bring forth much fruit? As Saint Francis of Assisi wrote, “it is in dying that we are now born again.”