Our Recent News
|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 October 10, 2016 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
Session 7 – 1 Peter 4:7-9 – Equipped to Live – Day 4
1 Peter 4:7 (HCSB) Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer.
The end times began at Jesus resurrection. What a wonderful period to live in if you know why you are here, if you are fulfilling your God-given purpose. Why are we here? To reflect Jesus. To reflect the Son as the moon reflects the sun. We, as lesser lights, reflect the Light to the world. What does Peter mean by being serious and disciplined for prayer? To me, that means to be intentional and diligent toward our conversations with the Lord. Conversation requires twice as much listening as it does speaking. Our collective appointments with God, meaning church, life groups, quiet time are all important. Does disciplined mean we need to be regimented to keep specific times of prayer each day? Having the good habit praying at a certain time of day should not become a reason to neglect others. We do not need to worship our habits. That being said, we should make time to pray. What does Peter mean by serious? Can we never be joyful in prayer? Prayer is essential, it is our vital connection to our Lord, to our source of being, of life. Prayer is a serious matter. Neglecting prayer, in the spiritual sense, is like neglecting water, in the physical sense. We cannot live victoriously without it. Prayer can be joyful, even jovial, but the most important thing is that we realize it is essential in the good times as well as the bad. When we remember that Jesus is our everything – creator, provider, sustainer – Lord, best friend, brother, beloved groom – we should cherish our time with Him. When keeping those things in focus, it seems that our main response would be joy knowing that all the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit want for us is our very best.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Contemplate your love for the family of God more than the infractions that happen between brothers and sisters. Our love does not cover up sin (only Jesus’ blood provides that covering), but Godly love for others enables us to keep our focus on God’s love for us and them. We are to forgive others as He has forgiven us.
Ephesians 4:32 (NASB) Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
When I think of all I have been forgiven, I cannot help but forgive other believers and demonstrate the love of Jesus toward them.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (CJB) Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
5 not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth.
7 Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures.
1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
Hospitality in the early church involved sharing one’s home with another believer for a period of time. We do this today with missionaries home on furlough, students who come to town to minister, etc. During the time when Peter wrote, Christians may have needed to house brothers and sisters displaced by persecution. A modern day example of this would be the “Lost Boys of the Sudan” many of whom were taken in by people in our own area a few years ago. I had the privilege of meeting two of those boys, now young men, who were working as patient care technicians during my hospital stay last summer. They have grown to be strong Christian men who send money back to Sudan to provide an education for other boys. This type of hospitality is still needed and will be more-so as persecution increases.
Questions: Is your prayer life what you would like it to be, what God would like it to be? Do you love other believers graciously with an attitude of forgiveness? Would you be prepared to offer your home as a refuge to another believer if needed?
|Posted on September 26, 2016 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Session 5 – 1 Peter 3:10-12 – Living in a Relationship – Day 5 - TAME THAT TONGUE
1 Peter 3:10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.
NIV Study Notes:
3:10–12 Peter introduces this quotation from Ps 34 with the explanatory conjunction “for,” showing that he views the quotation as giving reasons for obeying the exhortation of v. 9. According to the psalmist, (1) those who do such things will find life to be most gratifying (v. 10), (2) their days will be good (v. 10), (3) God’s eyes will ever be on them to bless them (v. 12) and (4) God’s ears will be ready to hear their prayer (v. 12).
Peter quotes from Psalm 34:11-18. You may want to read the Psalm in its entirety to get a context for the passage.
I think we all would like to live long and have an enjoyable life. What is the first thing the psalmist (David) tells us we must do in order to have these? We must refrain from evil and lying speech in order to, as Spock would say, “live long and prosper.” Those who want to love life (here and now) must first of all live honestly in control of their tongues. In fact, James teaches that all our observance of religious ritual and seeming piety is not worth much if our tongue is out of control.
James 1:26 (VOICE) VOICE If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless.
James 1:26 (AMPC) If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).
Is it easy to control the tongue, to avoid hurtful words and falseness? No, absolutely not. I believe as we try to control the tongue, we see how well (or not well) we exemplify the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. I think you hit the nail on the head. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. We cannot control our tongue unless the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we submit to His urgings regarding what we say. James does acknowledge the challenge of harnessing our words:
James 3:3-5 (HCSB) Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. 4 And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.
A small bit of gossip can wound many people. A “little white lie” can turn into a big fat problem. We’ve been talking about relationships. How does yielding our speech to the Spirit help us to have better relationships that glorify God? Spirit-led speech is King of kings led speech. The Spirit is not going to say or embrace anything that the Father would not take pleasure in. Spirit-led words will encourage and build up rather than discourage and tear down.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (HCSB) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.
Next we are told to have a hatred for sin and a desire to run the marathon, the lifelong journey to pursue peace. In other words, we must flee evil and blaze a trail for peace.
Romans 12:17-18 (NASB) Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
We cannot control the other person’s response in any situation. However, we can pursue peace with them whether they return that attitude or not.
As we have seen before, failing to obey God in our earthly relationships can hinder our ability to hear from the Lord. The opposite is also true. When we are allowing the Spirit to guide us in our relationships with people, we will experience a more intimate relationship with God as well. Then we will enjoy a more rewarding life this side of Heaven.
Challenge: Think before opening your mouth (three fingers pointing back at me, for sure). Pray before speaking. Does that biting comment really need to be said? Is there a way to correct a person without tearing them down? Slow down long enough to ask the Lord the best way to approach a person. Value your brothers and sisters in Christ and seek to encourage them.
|Posted on September 26, 2016 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
Session 5 – 1 Peter 3:8-9 – Living in a Relationship – Day 4
1 Peter 3:8 (HCSB) Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.
What does Peter mean by “like-minded”? Believers should be working together for the common goals of spreading the Gospel, benevolence, doing good as the hands and feet of Jesus. Paul addressed this same idea in his letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 2:1-2 (NASB) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Being sympathetic in this verse is to have a genuine concern for the other’s situation, to be compassionate. Peter admonishes them to love other believers, to be affectionate, to have loving-kindness, to love them as brothers and sisters in the family of God. In our study of John, we learned that Jesus said our love for fellow believers would identify us as belonging to Him:
John 13:35 (NASB) By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Like Jesus we are to put others before ourselves in humility and compassion. Reading on in Philippians 2, we see these ideas expounded upon by the Apostle Paul:
Philippians 2:3-7 (NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Jesus chose to be wrapped in the limitations of flesh in order to serve and save us, showing us the compassion of the Father. We are to follow the example of Christ, choosing to love one another by humbling ourselves and seeking the best interests of others.
We are not to “pay back evil for evil.” We are not to take revenge because God says, “Vengeance is mine” (Romans 12:19-20). We are to bless our persecutors.
Romans 12:14 (NASB) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:19-21 (KJV) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
A Susie poem to help you remember verse 21 above:
BE NOT OVERCOME BY EVIL
BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD
NO MATTER HOW SOMEONE TREATS YOU
CONTINUE TO LIVE AS YOU SHOULD.
In fact, Jesus instructs us to pray for our persecutors:
Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
One way we bless those who speak evil against us or insult us is to pray for them. We should pray for their salvation and maintain a positive witness to them.
Chew on This: To go deeper into the way we as Christians are to treat one another and respond to unbelievers, please read Romans 12:9-21 thoughtfully and prayerfully. Back up to Romans 12:1-2 as sacrificing your will to the will of God and being transformed by being in His word is the only way you can truly be able to obey Romans 12:9-21.