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|Posted on October 11, 2016 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
Session 7 – 1 Peter 4:3-4 – Equipped to Live – Day 2
1 Peter 4:3 (HCSB) For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you.
Many of Peter’s readers were from a pagan (Gentile) background where many of these behaviors were acceptable and even used in worship of their gods. It is possible they were being taunted by their “friends” for not participating in these rituals because they now followed Jesus. Peter’s original audience had spent enough time in that life before they knew Christ.
Now Peter calls them (and us) to separate from these behaviors. There is a matter of portion control. Drinking alcoholic beverages is not condemned completely in the Bible, but drunkenness is. For some of us who have seen the destructiveness of alcoholism up close, it is wise to choose complete abstinence rather than risk going down that path. When someone drinks to excess, they may think they are making their own choices, but the drink is choosing for them. Likewise, enjoying good food is not wrong, but gluttony is. One definition of gluttony is “Voracity of appetite.” This can be an appetite for food, drink, sex, or even possessions. We are gluttonous when we keep feeding our desires past what is needed and best for us.
In our world today, sexual immorality runs rampant as it did in the Roman culture. There is “nothing new under the sun,” we see as we read Ecclesiastes. Advertisers cannot seem to sell anything without involving sensuality. Entertainers who are skimpily clad (both female and male) are idolized.
What is called “shacking up” or “living together” these days was called fornication in the Bible. Virgins are practically vilified instead of being celebrated and praised for adhering to what the word teaches. This is a shame.
The ironic thing then and now, is that those who choose to follow God’s ways rather than fall into the pit of destructive behaviors are actually slandered for doing what is right. However, being as different as we can from the rest of the world does get their attention!
Question: You have probably heard this one before: If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
|Posted on September 9, 2016 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Session 3 - 1 Peter 2:1-3 – Building Our Faith – Day 1
1 Peter 2:1 (HCSB) So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.
I think we need to define malice , deceit , hypocrisy , envy , and slander . I have put the numbers for the Greek words from The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible in brackets for you. We have looked those words up for you, but hope this demonstrates another tool you can use whether you access it the old fashioned way (in a book) as we do or you look them up online.
2549 – kakia – evil, malice, maliciousness, naughtiness, wickedness
1388 – dŏlŏs – a trick, bait, wile, craft, deceit, guile, subtlety
5272 – hupŏkrises – acting under a feigned part, deceit, hypocrisy, condemnation, dissimulation (being a poser – think Pharisees)
5355 – phthŏnŏs - ill-will (as detraction), i.e. jealousy (spite), envy
2636 – katalalia – defamation, back-biting, evil speaking
Get rid of all these behaviors in your relationships with each other. Holiness is not just how we interact with God. It is very much how we relate with other people. Do we have some of these problems even within our church congregations? Yes. Have you ever heard someone gossiping? That’s back-biting. What should we do if someone tries to gossip in our presence? We should identify it and gently explain that it is inappropriate. If the gossip persists, we may need to walk away from that conversation. We need to realize, however, that if we point the finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us. You mean, we need to remove the log from our own eye before we can see to remove someone else’s speck (Mathew 7:3-5)? Exactly. Is there such a thing as a church without a single hypocrite? Absolutely not, but I don’t want to be a person who could be defined as a hypocrite.
Now for the big question…how do we rid OURSELVES of all these things? Note: we are not called to cull them out of OTHERS. We need to think before we speak. Inappropriate speech usually comes out when one is in the heat of the moment. That usually happens when we don’t look at ourselves circumspectly and pause before speaking. I think that is why James admonishes us thusly:
James 1:19-20 (NIV) My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
There is a little poem we had first graders memorize at Glenview Christian School that explains that God gave us two ears and only one mouth because we needed to listen more than we talked. (OUCH!)
What role does prayer play in keeping ourselves from these sinful attitudes and actions? Prayer is crucial because when we give our conversation with the Father priority, and we give our speech over to His control, laying it at the cross, He is faithful to guard our tongues. Our walk with the Lord is a daily surrendering of our will, our attitudes, to the control of the Holy Spirit. Tapping into His power is the only way we can rid ourselves of “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.”
One last reminder on this subject:
Psalm 34:13 (NIV) keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.
1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good.
How do newborns express their desire to nurse? By crying, and sometimes they make sucking motions with their mouth. What happens if they are not fed in a timely manner? They keep crying louder and longer until their hunger is satisfied. They also need to be fed several times a day. Imagine what would happen if a baby were only fed once a week. I get it – you’re saying we should hunger for God’s word daily, even moment by moment, not just on Sunday, if we wish to grow up to be strong in the Lord. We do not want to be spiritually mal-nourished. The only way to satisfy that hunger is to read or listen to the Bible! We need to be continuously feeding on God’s word. The pure word – not just books about the word – but the actual word of God. You can purchase the entire Bible on CD’s or I believe download it to your Ipod or whatever device. So if you cannot stop to read, at least you can listen.
Job 23:12 (NASB) I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
Jesus spoke of this spiritual food:
John 4:32 (NASB) But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Milk causes babies to grow. These believers were already saved, so what did Peter mean by saying they would “grow by it to their salvation?” The believer matures toward the ultimate fulfillment of salvation – Christ-likeness and Heaven – as he/she studies the word of God.
Many of the people Peter was addressing in this letter were relatively new believers and needed milk. The writer of Hebrews addressed believers who had known the Lord for quite some time and should have been progressing to meat.
Hebrews 5:12-13 (ESV) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
As we grow, we should be more and more into studying our Bibles, capable of being a teacher rather than a student. We do not only teach in formal settings. If you are a parent, you have the responsibility to teach your children about the Lord. In order to be prepared, you need to be an avid student of the word yourself. Does a person ever get to the point that they no longer need to be immersed in the word of God? Absolutely not! You’re right. I have been teaching senior adults, many of whom have been in Sunday School for over 80 years, but they are still learning new things as they read and re-read the Bible. My sister’s father-in-law at 88 years young is still eagerly teaching a Bible Study class at his church.
Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Peter said they had tasted that the Lord is good. The people Peter was teaching had experienced the Lord’s goodness personally. They had trusted Jesus and received the gift of eternal life, but they still needed to grow and mature, as do we.
Challenge: If you are not already doing so, read a bit of God’s word every day this next week. Oh – you can do that right here! Go beyond just reading. Really contemplate what God is saying. Meditate on it (chew on it all day). Look for ways to apply the truths you learn to your daily life.
Application: Pray each morning asking the Lord to guard your tongue and your attitudes and to rid you of all those things listed in 1 Peter 2:1, those attitudes that do not reflect the character of God since we are His children. Slow down your mouth long enough to engage your brain before speaking.
|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 9:40 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1:22-25 – Be Holy – Day 5
1 Peter 1:22 (HCSB) By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.
Exactly what is the truth we are to obey? We are to adhere to everything that Jesus taught and lived. Didn’t He say that the Law and Prophets hinged on two main commands? Yes, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). I have a feeling that sounds easier than it really is. I remember that whole discussion Jesus had with Peter about who we are to consider our neighbors. Sounds like another one of those things requiring the Holy Spirit’s assistance.
How do we purify ourselves to be able to love fellow believers from a pure heart? In order to do what the Lord is telling us (through Peter) to do. Here are a couple of verses that may be of help:
Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Knowing the word of God, meditating on it, and even memorizing, does help a person to be pure. Why do we purify ourselves? It is not just for ourselves that we need to be pure but for our brothers and sisters as well. We encourage one another that living a godly life is possible, worthwhile, and fruitful. Our lives impact the lives of others every day. We must live in a way that influences others toward purity rather than away from it.
Psalm 119:9-11 (VOICE) How can a young person remain pure?
Only by living according to Your word.
10 I have pursued You with my whole heart;
do not let me stray from Your commands.
11 Deep within me I have hidden Your word
so that I will never sin against You.
But reality is that we all sin even after we have surrendered our lives to Jesus because we live in a fallen world. So how do we purify ourselves? Our friend the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us:
1 John 1:9 (VOICE) But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done.
Then we will be able to love one another from a pure heart “earnestly” also translated intently and fervently. This would be loving on purpose – choosing to love the other person. In other words, loving them even when they are not very loveable.
1 Peter 1:24 For All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.
Here Peter is quoting from Isaiah:
Isaiah 40:6-8 (HCSB) A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?”
“All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.”
In the same way that grass and flowers are temporary, so are our earth-suits we call flesh. The word of God is not like that. It lasts eternally. We should not base our hope, our lives, on the temporary things of this world because eventually they will all fade away like the beautiful, colorful bouquet eventually turns brown and dies. The only completely trustworthy person is the Lord Jesus, and the only infallible book is the word of God. The Gospel, the Good News, the BEST news is found in that word, the Bible.
Challenge: The epitome of Holy living is to love as Jesus loved. Challenge yourself to show His love to others this week – not just to people you like a lot but to people who need a dose of Jesus’ love even though they are not lovely. Unconditional love! Ask the Lord to enable you to love through the power of His Spirit within you.
|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1:20-21 – Be Holy – Day 4
1 Peter 1:20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
In verses 18 and 19, Peter talked about Jesus being he Lamb of God whose blood was the ransom for our souls. Now he reminds the readers that Jesus’ death on the cross was planned from the beginning. It was not something that caught the Lord by surprise: it was the Father’s plan all along:
Revelation 13:8b (NIRV) The Lamb is the one whose death was planned before the world was created.
God chose the exact moment in time for His Son to be born, the precise timing of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, and that His death on the cross would coincide with the celebration of the Passover.
Galatians 5:4-5 (ESV) 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Jesus was sent from God and was God on earth in the flesh (John 1:14); so when we trust Jesus, we are trusting God. Our hope is not in a man but in the almighty, eternal God, who lived among men as the God-Man. Since God raised Jesus from the dead, we have confidence that we too shall be raised to live with Him forever. Paul called us “joint heirs” with Jesus:
Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Since we are heirs, we should behave in a way that is honoring to our “forever family” which brings us back to the point of being holy. Since God gave us His very best, Jesus the Son, we should give Him our very best in thought, in word, and deed.
Chew on this: We are to “be holy as He is holy.” What does that look like in day to day life? Is it possible to be holy in our business practices? In our marriages? In raising our children? When we are out “having a good time?” When we are going through adversity or even persecution? This is only achievable through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. It is impossible in human strength alone; but with God, all things are possible. If it were not possible, He would not have commanded us to do so in the power of His Spirit.
|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1:17-19 – Be Holy – Day 3
1 Peter 1:17 (HCSB) And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence.
If a person claims God as Father, i.e. is a Christian, her behavior should reflect that she is her Father’s daughter. God judges impartially, not in the sense of condemning the Christian since we know the Christian’s salvation is secure, but a judgment leading to rewards. He judges His children fairly and objectively, knowing not only their deeds but the motives behind them. What does Peter mean by “conduct yourselves in fear”? Are we to be in abject terror of Father God? We are to reverence and respect the Father as well as be in complete awe of His power. We are to obey His will because as His children, our desire should be to bring Him joy, pleasure, and honor. We must remember that loving fathers discipline their children out of love not hate. Understanding that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere should make one pause before acting in any way that would dishonor Him. However, He is also merciful and gracious to those who trust in the salvation purchased on the cross by the blood of His Son.
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Psalm 34:11 (AMP) Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to revere and worshipfully fear the Lord.
There are consequences when we do not live in obedience to the heavenly Father, but these are the result of His love for us.
Hebrews 12:5-7 (ESV) And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
1 Peter 1:18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
We should desire obedience out of gratitude to the Father and the Son for the sacrifice made on the cross. He redeemed us, bought us out of slavery to The Law which was impossible for mere human beings to obey completely. Our sin nature makes it impossible to be holy enough to interact with a Holy God. Jesus could not purchase our redemption with money or the most valuable possessions on earth. The only payment acceptable to God was the perfect sacrificial Lamb, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ blood paid the price of our sin debt on the cross and freed us from that striving. Now our obedience is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In essence God enables us to earn the rewards He desires to give us as we yield ourselves completely to the Spirit’s control. Through the Spirit’s power we can live in agreement with God’s will and purpose for our lives. Our lives are no longer empty and aimless. We have a God-given purpose to fulfill as long as He chooses to leave us on planet Earth.
Challenge: The phrases “fear the Lord” and “the fear of the Lord” are used many times in both the old and new testaments. Use a good concordance or www.biblegateway.com to look up several of these to gain a better understanding of what this means. Look up the words used for fear in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
|Posted on September 3, 2016 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1 – Be Holy – Day 2
1 Peter 1:15 (HCSB) But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
We glorify God when we behave in a manner proving that we are created in His likeness:
Genesis 1:26a (AMP) Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness];
Holiness means to be “set apart” from sin and to God. We are set apart for the divine purposes of God. The conduct of those who believe must reflect to Whom they belong. Jesus is our Master and Lord, and we are to live lives in obedience to His will and commands. We are to live disciplined lives. (Ouch, again!) It says to be holy in all our conduct. You mean, going to church on Sunday, smiling and singing, isn’t enough? You mean that even in the heat of the moment, I am supposed to stop before I want to argue, and ask the Lord, “What would You have me do and say?” Argh! We are to conduct ourselves as God’s children every hour of every day of every week. The standard for our moral conduct is our Heavenly Father, not what society accepts as morally okay. My former pastor, Jimmy Draper, often quoted “What one generation tolerates the next will embrace.” I have lived long enough to see the truth of that statement. Society’s view of morality fluctuates: ours should not! Living according to God's moral standard can only be done by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Where is it written that we are to be Holy because God is Holy? Glad we asked that. Here you go:
Leviticus 11:44-45 (NIV) 44 I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 45 I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
Leviticus 19:2 (NIV) “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’
God admonished Israel to be a holy nation, set apart as His chosen people. He gave them the Law to help them understand exactly what He meant by holy. The command is the same for New Testament Christians, including us. We are to be His people, reflecting His nature.
Strong Suggestion: Begin each day with prayer asking the Holy Spirit to flow through you in all you do and say. Ask Him to stop your mouth before you say anything unkind or foul. Ask Him to direct your paths to good works rather than anything that would tear someone down. Susan just noted that tear (to rip) and tear (weeping) are spelled the same way. May our actions build up rather than tear down, and may our words bring joy rather than tears.
|Posted on September 2, 2016 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
Session 2 – 1 Peter 1:13-14 – Be Holy – Day 1
1 Peter 1:13 (HCSB) Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.
Your brain needs to be ready for battle. You need to be in control of your thoughts and actions. Let’s look at these verses in the Amplified (Classic Edition):
1 Peter 1:13 (AMPC) So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed. 14 [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].
And again from The Voice Bible:
1 Peter 1:13 So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. 14 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know better.
How does a person “prepare his mind”? This is done by the “renewing of your mind” through the word of God as Paul instructed in Romans 12:2.
Romans 12:2 (NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
How can we be “serious,” “sober,” “controlled?” We need to keep control of our faculties by not drinking to excess, avoiding gluttony (ouch!), avoiding illicit drug use, etc.
Ephesians 5:18 (Complete Jewish Bible) Don’t get drunk with wine, because it makes you lose control. Instead, keep on being filled with the Spirit.
So on the positive side, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit rather than these worldly pursuits. How do we do that? We abide in the word of God and pray for the Spirit to illumine it to us, to give us insight into the ways of the Lord. Verse 14 helps us with this as well, but how do we focus our eyes on grace that will come when Jesus returns? We keep our eyes on Jesus as we are told in the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
So…the first task is to take our eyes off of the distractions – sin, other people, the advertisements of the world. And the second step is to keep your eyes on the prize as Paul stated:
Philippians 3:12-14 (VOICE) I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. 13 Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. 14 I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.
When racing, one must keep eyes straight ahead, focusing on the finish line – in our case, our future with the Lord. A runner does not carry extra weight that would slow her down. She does not race in an overcoat. So we must throw off the weight of our sin. Since Jesus paid its price on the cross, we need not be encumbered by it anymore. Now that the Holy Spirit indwells us, we know better than what the world teaches and are enabled to choose to do what is righteous, pleasing to God, and glorifying to His name.
Challenge: Evaluate your own life. Is there anything holding you back from full commitment to the Lord Jesus? Do you still bear the guilt of past sins? Confess them and be made clean. (John 1:9) Are there worldly habits that prevent you from being sober minded? Cast them off by the power of the Holy Spirit.