Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1 Peter 4:15-19

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

In 1 Peter 4:19, Peter tells us that we should “commit the keeping” of our souls to God. This phrase here literally has the idea of “depositing for safekeeping.” It is a phrase that would bring up the image of a bank vault. Imagine every month that I get paid $2,000 in cold, hard cash. I then take that $2,000 and drive it to the bank to deposit it in my account. The only difference between my bank and your bank is this: my bank is the vault at Ft. Knox. After I stop at the guard shack and am escorted with armed soldiers to the inner chambers of the vault, I am able to place all $2,000 in the vault for safekeeping. As I leave, I can hear the pistons hissing as giant bolting doors seal airtight behind me, securing my money. As I exit out the back of the building, I notice snipers on perches all around the complex. A warning placard indicating explosives buried in the ground surrounding the building greets me as I turn to walk up the road past the three tanks and a dozen or so .50 caliber rifles sweeping back and forth across the compound. I feel pretty good about my bank. I don’t have that “somebody’s gonna steal my money” feeling. I have “deposited for safekeeping.” I can go home and sleep that night, not wondering whether or not my money will be stolen tonight. It is in Ft. Knox, that makes it safe. Peter uses this same idea of safekeeping when speaking of committing our souls to God. He is in control and He will take care of us. Whether we are facing problems on the outside, or fears on the inside, we can rest secured in Him. He is stronger than any foe, internal or external. He will not allow us to be destroyed. He will not allow us to be overcome. We must trust in Him. We can trust in Him, because He is a good God. So, commit the keeping of your soul to God, He will be faithful to care for you.
Food For Thought: What does the phrase “commit the keeping” mean? How can we do this everyday with our souls?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 Peter 4:12-14

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Constantly we are reminded by sermons, by hymns, and certainly by the Scriptures that we should be giving God glory, but at times the “how” of giving glory to God seems a bit hazy at best. In our striving to “do” the specific thing of “giving glory to God,” we skip over the much more God-designed way of giving glory to Him. We are beings who instinctively worship and fawn over things. We allow our perceptions to determine our attitudes. It is this very nature that God has designed to be the avenue for His glory. It is not on a checklist of things like “get the oil changed, clean the house, glorify God.” Rather, we are to glorify God while doing all other things. Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:31 that it should even be something that happens while we are eating and drinking. It is an outlook that results in outbursts. It is a mindset that results in attitude. It is a view of God as utterly in charge of all things, and hence praiseworthy of His wisdom even when it is far beyond our understanding. That in joy and in sorrow, God is our satisfaction, not circumstances. Pastor John Piper says it this way, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” It is the idea that in the most blessed experience we can see God as the giver of good gifts. Conversely, it means that God is glorified in our deepest darkest valleys when we see Him as a God Who is in control and Who longs to comfort us as His aching child. That even when we get punched in the deepest part of our soul, we can turn with eyes of faith to a Sovereign God who knows all and holds all. And that in that moment, we can say through the deepest possible pain with tears in our eyes, “God knows me, God loves me, and God will not forsake me.” It is then, that He is truly glorified in us.
Food For Thought: We saw today that glorifying God isn’t typically an action in and of itself. Give the circumstance from 1 Peter 4:12-14, that Peter mentioned that God can be glorified through.

Monday, October 29, 2012

1 Peter 4:8-11

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:  that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

As I read Scripture, Peter comes across as an “all-in” kinda guy. We see this when Jesus mentions that His disciples will fall away, and Peter emphatically says,  “Forget about all the other guys, I would die for you, Jesus.” In the garden, when the temple guards come to take Jesus into custody, Peter is the one who pulls a sword to protect Jesus. When Jesus comes walking on the water, it is Peter who literally goes overboard to walk on the water with Jesus. Based upon his enthusiasm in Scripture, I think if Peter were a modern day sports fan, he would be the shirtless guy with his chest, face and hair painted the colors of his team. He would have the foam finger, megaphone, and air-horn. He would be “that guy.” So, in verse 8, Peter tells his readers that “above all things,” they should have “fervent charity.” My mind goes straight to tackle football. Peter is admonishing his disciples to literally have “full-contact charity.” We don’t need any “two-hand-touch” charity. We need “body-parallel-to-the-ground”-tackle charity. He is telling us that we should be crazy about the way we love those around us for Christ. It isn’t good enough that we have kind thoughts. I think that Peter is telling us that as Christians we should be the most-intensely loving people that exist. Our very actions should be dripping with care and concern for the souls around us. Every opportunity we have to point people towards their greater satisfaction in Jesus should be leapt at. With the intensity of a cheek-painted, fourth quarter, linebacker we should be actively, constantly sweating and striving to love others, and to love them towards Jesus.
 Food For Thought: What phrase of intensity did Peter use today? In what ways can you do this in the following areas: home, school, work, sports, in the hood?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Nugget

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:12 about the type of people who think that the best measuring stick for themselves is other people. Paul goes on to say that when they use each other as a measure of spirituality or of gospel maturity, they “are not wise.” You see, when we compare ourselves to others to find our level of spirituality, we almost always do so in a biased way. The one who is mildly spiritual will compare himself to the one who is barely spiritual, and the one who is barely spiritual will compare himself to the one who is carnal and worldly. The one who is worldly and carnal goes one step further and plays the “at least I’m not as bad as Hitler” card. This “I’m better than you” game is exhausting and completely foolish. When God looks down from heaven, he doesn’t give a letter grade. He’s a pass/fail kind of God. He has a standard of perfection, and He holds all of us up to that standard. He doesn’t put us in order from tallest to shortest and pick the top five tallest. No, He looks and sees us next to the pass/fail scale. The sad thing is, all of us fail. According to Romans 3:23, we all have fallen short of God’s standard. But that is not the end. Just because we failed the semester grade, doesn’t mean that we failed the eternal grade. The point of the gospel is that we fail, but that Jesus doesn’t. And that if we rely on His work, and not our own, we don’t have to worry about our failing grade, because God will pass us based on Jesus, not based on ourselves. A crucial part of the gospel is that we compare ourselves to God’s standard, not to other people who have already failed. A key to being able to trust Christ and the work He has done for us. We have committed the most epic fail, but Jesus has saved us from that failure and given us a new hope and eternal life.
Food For Thought: Why is it unwise to compare ourselves among ourselves?

Friday, October 26, 2012

1 Peter 4:4-7

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the entire country. As the “supreme” court, it has the privilege of being over all federal courts in the country. If a lower court passes a ruling that the Supreme Court disagrees with, the Supreme Court has the power to overturn that ruling and establish a new ruling. The nine justices on the Supreme Court have the ultimate say-so in all federal rulings. That is a lot of power to be had.
In contrast, Psalm 62:11 says, that “power belongeth to God.” As much review over legislation that the Supreme Court wants to do, they will never be able to match the eternal check and balance that the Sovereign of all things has over every thing He has created. The Supreme Court as powerful as it is in this country is child’s play when placed on a scale with the power of God. When we read 1 Peter 4:4-7, there is a reminding that judgment gets passed here on earth. Here Peter is talking explicitly about persecution and false conviction in courts based upon a person’s faith, but the scope of this principle is farther reaching than just persecution. When we are judged by anyone wrongly, God promises that the day will come when He will exercise “Supreme” review of all previous cases. If you are wrongly accused, or if you are scorned, if you are attacked, or if you are mocked, you can rest in the fact that the judgment passed here by this “lower court” will one day give way to the ruling of a Higher Court. God is the one who judges all things, and He will vindicate the righteous and the ones who have been unjustly treated. Now rest in Him. He sees all and knows all. An omniscient judge is the best judge because He is never lacking in evidence. He sees and knows all the facts and He will vindicate the ones who have been unjustly treated. He is a good Judge.
Food For Thought: What is the highest court of the United States called? Who sits as Judge for the highest court of the Universe? Whose ruling bears the most weight?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1 Peter 4:1-3

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

Too often the Hebrews 11:25 verse referencing “the pleasures of sin for a season,” is used to excuse why sin seems like so much fun. Someone will say, “Well you see, it is really fun…for a season.” As if the idea that since the fun is only temporary somehow that makes it less fun. Cupcakes bring me happiness for the eleven seconds it takes me to one. I still eat cupcakes. I like cupcakes alot. The duration of the fun is not the point. The type of fun is the issue. According to verse 3 today, living a life of sin and impurity is living after the “will of the Gentiles.” This should stand in stark contrast with the “will of God,” which is to do right, and live holy and pure. You don’t have to be duped into thinking of sin as the thing that you don’t want to do, only because the pleasure doesn’t last forever. No, the reason you don’t do sin is because it stands as a direct affront to the perfect design of God the Creator, who made all things a specific way, including you, and knows exactly how they should work. Furthermore, the reason you shouldn’t sin according to verse 1 is that Jesus died so that you wouldn’t have to sin anymore. Before His death and your salvation, you were a slave to sin. You didn’t sin because you liked it, you sinned because you had to. You couldn’t help it. Now Jesus has died and in His death bought you forgiveness. He has risen from the dead, in His resurrection we can now have victory over sin. The reasons for not sinning are legit, not based in the fact that sin “is only fun….for a season.” No, the reasons for not sinning are this: sin is wrong; sin is against God; sin no longer can control you if you are in Christ. Now, go eat a cupcake and stop sinning.
Food For Thought: According to today’s devo, what isn’t the reason we don’t sin? Give three real reasons why we shouldn’t sin.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1 Peter 3:18-22

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

We sin. We have sinned. We are sinners. We were born in sin. By nature and by action, we are sinners. This presents us with a massive problem: our sin separates us from a Pure and Holy God. He hates sin. The very word that describes who we are is the very word that describes everything that He hates. Because of sin, we cannot come to God. It is impossible. No amount of work can be accomplished with our sinful hands, no series of words can be uttered from the impure fountain of our mouths, no amount of feeling can be poured out from the sepulcher of our hearts, that can ever reconcile this shortcoming. We are fully incapable of fixing this in problem, and because of that, we must be separate from God and from the blessings and joy that are found in Him. But “Christ suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” He was perfect and sinless. He was pure and holy, and he took our place. He took our punishment, so that we could take His place of fellowship. He became sin so that we could become His righteousness. Now, we don’t have to be a slave to sin anymore, but we can now find victory through Christ. Now, we don’t have to succumb to the filthy ways of a corrupt heart, but out of a new heart and a love for our God, we can live in a way that brings purpose and meaning. Whereas before we lived at enmity with a Holy God, now we live at peace with Him as His children. We always lived in a way that He disapproved, but now, in faith, we please Him daily. What a change! The gospel of Jesus has drastically changed our situation. He fixed what we never could. Through His selfless love, we now have hope.
Food For Thought: According to this text, why did Jesus suffer for our sins? What does that mean?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1 Peter 3:16-17

"Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing."

God has blessed all men with a conscience. This is that internal awareness that either excuses the things we do or accuses us of the wrong things that we do. (Rom. 2:14-15) However, before we assume that our conscience should be our guide and direct our lives for all good living, we have to realize that conscience alone is not a good guide. You see, a conscience is only as useful as the amount of information that has been put into it. Someone who lives a life as a criminal will feel a shamed or guilty conscience if he turns or “squeals” on his accomplices. This is because at some level he ingrained his conscience with some philosophy like “there is honor among thieves.” While philosophies like this make for entertaining TV shows, they make for horribly anti-biblical living. You see, God designed our conscience to be informed well. We soak all things up and develop a world-view that will be based upon the things we allow to influence us. Our conscience simply tells us how to live. God also gave us His Word, so that we could read and know all things that He desired for us to know. One of the greatest things that He desires from us is obedience. He has equipped us with a conscience, and He has given us His Word so that we can equip our conscience for a lifestyle of obedience. Sadly, we often neglect to read His Word. Instead, we live a life that exhibits poor decision after poor decision, all the while, our own un-informed conscience excusing all of our ignorant actions. Here in 1 Peter 3:16, Peter tells us that we should have a good conscience and that our conscience should bear out the fruit of a good lifestyle in Christ. Inform your conscience with God’s Truth, and then allow that conscience to convict you of wrong doing, or to offer peace when others falsely accuse you of wrong doing.
Food For Thought: Is there such a thing as an ill-informed conscience? How do we have a well-informed conscience?

Monday, October 22, 2012

1 Peter 3:13-15

And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

The Apostle Paul wrote Romans, a major treatise on the faith of the Christian life. The Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, and three letters and the mega-theme of his books could be summed up in the concept of love. When we read the letters of Peter, it seems as if one of the things he most often writes about is hope. Faith is a present living with trust and security fixed in God for protection and provision. Love is an outpouring of that belief and security in a sacrificial, serving manner. Hope is the excited anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. According to 1 Peter 1:3-5, we have a hope that is set in “the resurrection of Jesus, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” When we get to 1 Peter 3:15, Peter first assumes that your hope is not just existent, but that it is ultimately evident to those around you. In this assumption, he pushes you to the next step, to not just have hope exist in your life, but always be ready to explain why you have hope in your life. Your internal security should culminate in an external witness. Here, Peter wants you to take hope to the next step. Just as much as your faith should be a platform for the declaration of the gospel to those around you, and as much as your love should be lived out in actions that bring those around you to Jesus and His Truth, your hope should be evident and should be a medium that with meekness you should be able to communicate to “every man” the Truth of Jesus. And how do those around you see your hope? Verse 14 says that hope will become most pronounced and evident during suffering and affliction. In essence, your reactions to difficulty should be able to produce a witness to those around you of the hope that is in you. So how do you handle hard times? Do tough days bring out the hope that is in you?
Food For Thought: What word is Paul known for? John? Peter? What do each of these terms mean?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Romans 1:28

Weekend Nugget:
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."

Have you ever noticed that several young people from Christian homes, Christian schools and church youth groups end up running as fast and as far away from church as they can when they graduate from high school? Often a broken heart declares that they “just don’t believe any of that church stuff.” It is almost as if they were masquerading for the majority of their high school years, and then on graduation day, they were finally able to take off the mask and reveal their real self.  Many of these self-proclaimed “atheists” can have their feelings summed up in the statement: “There is no God, and I hate Him!” This self-contradicting statement stems usually from bitterness and misunderstanding, but is very destructive and without the saving work of Jesus in the heart of the person, destruction and condemnation certainly await them in eternity.  Often these “atheists” find the truth of Scripture as frustrating and hard to understand. They see the discipline and protection of their parents as hatred and narrow-mindedness. They live in a very self-serving world with themselves as the super-hero. They become the absolute authority on all things in their life. If they don’t feel it, it doesn’t exist. If they don’t think it, it’s not true. Very quickly they become the standard by which they judge the world around them. In an effort to dismiss what seemed to be inconvenient to them, they complicate their life and wind up more frustrated. In Romans 1:28, Paul speaks about this type of person, “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Like a small child who covers his face with his hands to “hide” from you, they use their own thinking to “hide” from the all-seeing Almighty. I wish I could say it ends well for them, but the Bible doesn’t seem to say that. Rather, according to verse 32, judgment is coming to them. All atheists will one day believe, whether during this lifetime or the next. As Christians who do believe in God, let us work to draw non-Christians towards the God we know.   
Food For Thought: What phrase did I say that self-proclaimed young atheists use? How is this self-contradicting?

Friday, October 19, 2012

1 Peter 3:8-12

Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

How can we fulfill Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies, bless them, pray for them”? It is one of the hardest commands of Scripture. Instinctively, when we are attacked, we attack back. When we are mocked, we react in anger. When we are frustrated or bullied, we respond in hatred. But Jesus commands us in His Sermon on the Mount that we should love those who make us angry. How? It is literally almost impossible. We just don’t want to. When we get to 1 Peter 3:9, Peter berates us with the same message, “render blessing to those who are evil to you.”
Why? What is it in Christian theology that can demand such a difficult thing from us? When somebody talks bad about me, I don’t desire to bless him. When somebody intentionally strives to make me look like a fool, I don’t love him. So, why is there this command? How could God make such a nearly impossible demand on us? Because He forced the exact same “impossible demand” on Himself. You see, when Christ calls us to “love our enemies,” that is exactly what John 3:16 says God did, “God loved the world.” How did God exhibit that love towards His enemies? In reconciliation. In forgiveness through the death of Jesus for sins. God instead of extending judgment to us, has offered love and forgiveness.
So how can we react with love and forgiveness towards those that despitefully use us and persecute us? We can do so, because God has set the perfect example. With forgiveness, He has turned His eternal enemies into His eternal friends. Now, we in like fashion, can see the gracious example of a merciful God who was wronged and reviled by our lifestyle, our words, our actions, our evil hearts, our fleshly desires and our wicked minds; and we can be motivated to forgive with the same forgiveness with which we have been forgiven. The forgiven should know best about forgiveness. That’s us. Now, let’s do the hard thing, forgive.
Food For Thought: How can we forgive those that do us wrong? What is our great example of this kind of forgiveness?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1 Peter 3:1-7

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

“Submission” in regards to marriage has almost become a dirty word according to culture. The idea that a wife would ever have to “submit” to her husband is often portrayed as barbaric, and uncivilized. It is like the word is used in regards to a WWE wrestling match: Two big sweaty guys in leotards fight and slap each other with chairs. As one staggers across the rink, the other climbs the ropes and leaps from the corner through the air collapsing his overwhelmed foe beneath his beer-belly. Injured and dejected, “submitted” and defeated, the sweat machine hangs his balding head in shame and leaves the rink while being jeered at by the opponent’s fans all the way to the locker room. Somehow in this perception of submission, to submit = to be shamed and made less of. This is not at all the biblical view of submission. Submission according to scripture is a holy and sacred act. It has nothing to do with being shamed or made less of; it has everything to do with honor and being made more of. It is not something that is forced on women; rather, it is something that is joyously engaged in by women. Submitting is not surrendering. It is an action, not a reaction. The Scriptures never read “Husbands submit your wives…”, rather, it always reads, “Wives, submit yourselves.” This is important, because just as much as wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, husbands are commanded (v.7) to give honour unto the wife by knowing them and loving them well. Both of these things are given as acts to be personally fulfilled by the individual, not as something that the spouse demands.
Frame your thinking now. Don’t let culture play semantic games that villainize God’s perfect designs like submission. Rather see the beauty of God’s designs and trust that He alone all wise knows what will bring the most joy to you and glory to Him in your future marriage.  
Food For Thought: What is the difference between the cultural perception of “submission” and the biblical explanation of it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 Peter 2:18-25

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Many view the world’s problem as that it just “isn’t Christian enough.” This view purports that if we could just change the governments of the world to be Christian governments, we could do away with things like poverty, and hunger, and disease.  These people see teachings of Scripture like Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7 as a prescription to all the problems in the world. Often mixing political rhetoric with biblical interpretation, they create an idea that government and country must be converted to Christianity. This is a noble desire, but it is not the call of Scripture. Peter and Paul don’t write to us to tell us to live righteous and holy as the government, but rather to live righteous and holy with the government. The idea that Jesus came and taught us to fix all of our social problems and injustices is an idea known as the “social gospel.” The flaw with the “social gospel” is that Jesus didn’t come to liberate us from our social problems, but rather from our eternal problem, namely sin and death. Unfortunately, this side-lining of evangelism to accomplish social programs was never the desire of Jesus. 1 Peter 2 says that Jesus died so that we would be “healed,” however, this does not mean that we will be “healed” from physical tribulation, rather, Peter writes in this same text that his “stripes” are our “example.” Jesus didn’t clear the path for liberation from bad days, He cleared the path for a much more permanent, liberating, and eternal “healing.” It’s not that we will have no more poverty, but that even in poverty we will be able to rejoice in the richness of God’s grace. So, contrary to our brothers who see Jesus as the answer to the social problems of the world, we instead rejoice that He came to be the answer for the far deeper, more firmly ensconced spiritual problem that all of mankind is in: sin. Furthermore, our hope isn’t set in a future one-world solution free from tribulation and tears, instead, our hope is set in an eternal God who sustains us today in the midst of tribulation (Romans 5:1-5) and will one day wipe away all of our tears (Revelation 21:4).
Food For Thought: What is the idea called that says Jesus came to fix all of our social problems and injustices? Although it is well-meaning, how can this be detrimental to the work of the true gospel that Jesus preached?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1 Peter 2:13-17

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Christians who think of themselves as servants of God, and therefore, above government control and government mandate, have obviously not read their whole Bibles. In only a few places of Scripture does God write explicitly what “His will” is, but as we come to 1 Pet. 2:15, we see articulated the express “will of God.” He desires that we “Honor all men, love our brethren, fear Him, and honor the King (when Peter was writing this, that was Emperor Nero, the Christian murderer).” Two thousand years later, the eternal will of God has not changed. His desire is that we still put to silence the foolishness of men, by loving each other, fearing Him, and honoring the ones in authority over us. So what is “honoring?” Let’s start with what “honoring” isn’t: 2 Peter 2:10, “them that despise government, presumptuous, self-willed, speak evil of dignities.” Jude vs. 8 says they “despise dominion (any who rule over them), and speak evil of dignities.” This is in spite of the command of God in Exodus 22:28 to not “curse the ruler of thy people.”
“Honoring” and hence “God’s will” is defined as this: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch over your souls,” (Heb. 13:17); and obey them because “they are God’s ministers,” who are “ordained of God” himself (Rom. 13:1-7). Instead of cursing, God desires that we pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority;” we should not be on the side of the road with a sign that defames the leader of our people, we should not be on an internet social network bashing the “minister of God,” we should not join in the “foolishness” of crass, ill-thought, scorning, bitter men, rather we should be on our knees before the throne of the God who ordained those authorities, joining in the holy trust that He has enlisted us for, namely, supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving for those authorities. Now, partake in the will of God, not the foolishness of men.
Food For Thought: What is listed out in this text as the explicit “will of God?” What does that mean?

Monday, October 15, 2012

1 Peter 2:9-12

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold glorify God in the day of visitation.”

When talking to His disciples in John 15:16, Jesus says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” This message from Jesus remains the same for all of God’s children today. There are two big things that we need to see in this text today: first, God saves by His grace alone; and second, he saves us for a specific purpose. The first point, God’s grace, teaches us that God saves us simply because He wants to. This means that it is not because of our awesomeness (even though some of us are totally awesome). It is because of a Divine purpose that is greater than any inherent goodness within us; God independently chose us and saved us from the bondage of our own devices and from certain eternal destruction.  So we see first that God saved us from something; secondly, we see that God saved us to something. God saved us according to verse 11 so that we can “abstain from (which means “live with out”) fleshly lusts.” This is the same idea that Peter already articulated in ch. 1, vs. 16, “Be holy.” Not only did God save us from the future punishment of sin in eternal hell and separation from Himself, but God also saved us from the present bondage to sin that epitomizes all of mankind. The liberty has become the mandate. We now can live holy lives, and according to God, we now must live holy lives. Salvation isn’t just an ethereal, eternal concept, no, salvation is a thing for here and now. He saved us to eternal life, starting now. The liberating decree that has brought eternal, victory-over-sin life is a commanding decree to eternal, victorious-over-sin living.
Food For Thought: Read Romans 6:17-18. How do these two verses apply to the thoughts presented in today’s devo?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Nugget

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."
2 Peter 1:5-7 lists out some important aspects of the Christian life that can at times get over looked. The view of Christianity as a “just have faith” movement couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is absolutely true that God saves us by His grace alone, through faith alone, and that it is “not of works lest any man should boast.” This is Justification. Scriptures also say that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” But is faith all we need? Is the Christian life a “let go and let God” experience? Well…yes, but no. For Justification, do the “let go and let God” thing, because we are only saved when we believe that it isn’t our works that save us, but rather Jesus’s works that save us. But after that, the game changes. The process known as Sanctification (literally meaning “to purify or cleanse”) begins. This process requires a fair amount of work on our part.
Here in 2 Peter 1, we see Peter saying “add to your faith.” This can be summed up in the thought, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that remains alone.” Peter isn’t saying we need to be saved by these things, no, he is saying that now that we are saved, we need to live with these things. So, what does Peter say to add to your faith? virtue (honest and pure living), knowledge (a growing understanding of Who God is, and what He has done), temperance (self-control in body and in mind), patience (a reliance in the Sovereign hand of an Almighty God that keeps you from sweating the small stuff), godliness (a desire to do those things that God has called you to), brotherly kindness (a familial compassion for those around you, and an acquired responsibility for their success), love (self-sacrificial service for the growth of others and advancement of God’s glory) 

Food For Thought: List out three things that Peter says we should “add to our faith.” How can you intentionally add these three things to your faith?

Friday, October 12, 2012

1 Peter 2:4-8

1 Peter 2:4-8
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priest hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus for the first time talks about the church, and says that He will “build His church.” The picture He constantly paints is a picture where He is fashioning a giant building; and instead of using brick and mortar, He is using “living stones” (Christians). In 1 Peter 2, starting in verse 6, Peter starts quoting the Old Testament and begins to show how that these verses were prophetic, and that Jesus came and as the “Master Builder” and also as the “Cornerstone” He fulfilled these prophecies. As the “Master Builder,” He is the one who fashions and shapes the church into what God desires it to be. As for the reference to the “Cornerstone,” a cornerstone is a stone that is used in the construction of a building. Often it would be referred to as the “foundation stone.” This stone would be set at the base of a building and would establish the exact location of where a building would be built. More than that though, because of it’s perfect shape it would be used as a guide for which direction all of the other stones would be laid. This is the perfect picture of who Jesus is. He is the chief cornerstone who established this building (the Church). He showed in His life and His death the exact location where His church would be established and where in spite of trials and testings, that same church must grow and flourish. He showed furthermore, in which direction every stone that came after Him would have to be lain. Sadly, as Peter points out the truth that Jesus was chosen by God to be not just the “Master Builder” but also the “Chief Cornerstone,” unfortunately many Jews and others living around Peter had a hard time putting their faith in Jesus. The very one who God had set as an example for the rest of the world, instead of being a “foundation block” for their lives, had become a “stumbling block” (or something that caused them to be confused).  Praise God today that He set a very clear example in Jesus, and then wrote that example down in His Word so that we could read about it and learn from it.
Food For Thought: In what ways is Jesus the perfect “Chief Cornerstone?”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1 Peter 2:1-3

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

Justification is the term that describes the fact that God declares us righteous by His grace through our faith in the death and work of Jesus. Justification is the grace of God extended to us. However, often we view it as the only grace that He extends to us (and from this narrow perspective, we say it is the grace that “He extended to us”). But this is not the only grace that God offers to those who put their faith in Jesus. You see, the next step of God’s grace comes in His giving to us His Holy Spirit and His Word. These two work together in the next step of God’s grace, namely, Sanctification (the purifying of ourselves to be holy, clean vessels, acceptable and pleasing to God).
Just as much as Justification took the grace of God, Sanctification takes God’s overwhelmingly powerful grace. You see, God doesn’t just save us; He changes us. This idea is known as “Duplex Gratia” (double grace) – He justifies and He sanctifies. If we view this sanctification as a gift of God, much like our justification is a gift from God, it will change our attitude towards purifying ourselves and “laying aside all malice, and all guile (lying), and hypocrisies and envies, and all evil speakings.” Now we can rejoice that God has effectively saved us from hell, and now He is saving us from the power of those sinful things that cancer our lives. His grace, through His Word, continues to call us to holiness, while empowering us with His Spirit to live lives that are holy. Now enjoy sanctification, it is not a stoic curse of the Christian life, it is a joy inducing blessing and grace from a beneficent God. “Taste that the Lord is gracious” to us in this way.
Food For Thought: Today we mentioned “duplex gratia,” meaning “double grace.” What are the two works of God’s grace that we looked at today?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

1 Peter 1:22-25

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
How do we become pure? I mean, I know if we take a bar of Ivory soap and few minutes of careful scrubbing, we can clean our hands or even our whole outside, but what about the inside? I’m not talking about your spleen; I’m talking about your soul. How can we clean and purify our souls? No doubt, much like our hands get filthy by living and shaking hands, and opening restroom doors, and using the knob on the water-fountain, picking our noses and ears, and all types of gross things, our souls get just as filthy by the foul things of this world. The TV shows we watch, the things we read on Facebook, the games we play, the conversations we hear, the emotions that we feel and allow to lead to sin, all of these things slowly but surely cover our souls and minds with smut and filth that impede our ability to serve and love God and others well. So, how do we clean up our souls? Well, according to verse 22, we “purify our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” How do we “obey the truth through the Spirit?” We purify now the same way that we first purified ourselves to salvation. It has three major components, two are Divine (from God) and one is human (of man). The Divine components of our purification are listed there in vs. 22, “Truth” and the “Spirit.” The human component listed there is “obedience.” God’s word calls us to do specific things, His Spirit constantly woos us, and it is our job to surrender to the Spirit that is ministering to us with God’s Word. For example, Scripture says “Flee youthful lusts,” and the Spirit points out the areas in your life where instead of fleeing, you are running head long into lustful situations, and the remaining component is the one that you are involved in, namely, obey God’s Word and His Spirit. So how do you do? How are you doing with obedience to Truth and the Spirit?
Food for Thought: What are the three components listed today as what helps us purify ourselves? List an area in which you could better purify yourself.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

1 Peter 1:17-21

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
God is perfect in His understanding. He can see everything before it even happens. It is not even good enough to say that He knows whether or not in basketball a shot will go in when you shoot it. Rather, He knows that a guy will invent basketball, and that one day you will be born and you’ll completely airball a shot that you take trying to impress your friends. He sees all things, long before they even begin to happen. Isaiah 46:10 says that God knows the end from the beginning. That literally means he knew how the world would end before He even spoke it into existence. This is huge, because here in verse 20, Peter writes about how “before the foundation of the world,” Jesus was meant to be the one who redeemed the whole world from their sins. So before God started shaping and stretching the cosmos, Jesus was already planned to be the redemption for our sins. This speaks to this great attribute of God known as Foreknowledge.  You see, this is important, because nothing catches Him off guard. He sees it all coming and anticipates and prepares for it. As a matter of fact, everything that is coming that will seem like it is out of control, He already saw a few thousand years ago, and has been working out a safe solution for you for about the same amount of time. This is why we can trust His Sovereign designs. He knows long before everything happens, that it will happen, and He makes a beautiful purpose and plan for it in our lives. We can simply trust Him for knowing and having prepared what is best for us. So fully appreciating God’s Foreknowledge, with Paul, we can say, (Rom. 8:38,39) “Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ.” He knows all and He will take care of us.
Food for Thought: What is something that has happened to you or your family recently that was completely unexpected? When did God know this was going to happen? What do you think His knowing caused Him to do?

Monday, October 8, 2012

1 Peter 1:13-16

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
In the ancient world, the loins of a garment would be about waist high. “Girding up the loins” simply meant taking the long flowing garments (the robes that they were wearing) and tying them up higher with a belt so that they would be able to move more freely and quickly. Often you would see this phrase used in the Old Testament, when God was leading the Jews into battle, or starting them on a long journey. What He was telling them to do was to prepare themselves for mobility, action, and efficiency.
Here in 1 Peter 1:13, God tells Christians to “gird up the loins of your minds,” which is simply His saying, “prepare your minds to be efficient, ready, prepared, complete for service for Me.” Here in these verses, Peter calls this “girding” of your minds a matter of being “obedient.” Furthermore, He says that this “girding” includes being “holy.” Although this is largely unpopular in culture today, the Christian life demands that in order to be obedient to the call of Christ, we must be willing to hone and sharpen our minds on the things of God. We must study Who He is, that we may know Him. We must think and pray, and meditate on His word, so that we can better present Him to others. So how are you doing? Do you sharpen your mind, or do you allow it to go numb with entertainment? Would your actions with your free time be considered “girding the loins of your mind,” or do you use your free time to just let your mind go? My prayer for today is that God will be magnified, and glorified in our holy effort to sharpen our minds for Him.
Food for Thought: List out some ways that you can “gird up the loins of your minds.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

FLEE Youthful Lusts

Weekend Nugget:

Matthew 24:15-22 talks about the last days when wickedness pervades the entire earth. Nations will be fighting with nations, disease will be ravishing all of the population, wicked men will be doing absolutely wicked things, and then the epitome of wickedness will come and bring destruction with him. Matthew says that when this happens, it will be so horrifying that everyone will “FLEE” to the mountains. He describes what fleeing looks like in verses 17-18: everybody drops everything and runs. This is the picture I have in my mind when I read 2 Timothy 2:22, “FLEE also youthful lusts.” Many well-intended self-proclaimed “heart doctors” will give you seemingly caring advice like “just follow your heart,” or “do what seems right to you,” “don’t let anyone tell you what to do, listen to yourself.” There is only one problem, and it is a big PROBLEM: the Bible completely disagrees with this philosophy. Jeremiah, the prophet (not a love doctor) spoke from the mouth of God when he wrote in Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Listening to the deceitful lusts and desires of your own heart, actually doesn’t seem like good advice but instead seems like possibly the worst advice you could ever get. Instead of “following the youthful lusts of your heart,” that will certainly bring trouble and heartache, you should instead “follow righteousness, faith, charity(love), peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” You should seek those who follow after God, and who live according to His desires, and follow the righteousness, faith, love and peace that they live in. Run for your life from the deceitful, damaging lusts of your own heart, and instead chase after the pure and perfect desires and designs the all-wise God has written in His Word.
Food for Thought: What does God tell us to do in regard to our flesh-designed and world-fed lusts and desires? What does this word mean?

Friday, October 5, 2012

1 Peter 1:6-12

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

In Genesis 24, Abraham sent out his servant with ten camels (the ancient equivalent of ten u-haul trucks)  that were loaded down with treasures. The servant had one task: find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. Talk about a job with high expectations! Finding a woman, that would be easy, but finding a good woman who would make a great wife, now that was a task. And so the servant set out to accomplish this great task. The story continues that Providence actually brought a girl, named Rebekah, across the servant’s path. Soon the servant was eating dinner with her family and getting to know more about her. Finally, the servant unloaded the gifts from the camels and made the proposal for his master’s son. I imagine that there would have been a lot of gold, and silver, and jewels, and nice clothes on ten camels. The servant told her of his wisdom, and how handsome he was, and how he was a man of God, and that she truly would be very happy with him…oh, yeah, and he was an only child (which meant he was loaded!!). So she agreed, and hopped on one of the camels and rode off into the sunset to meet the one that even though she had not met, she absolutely had fallen in love with.
When I read 1 Peter 1:8, I always think of this story. Jesus, like Isaac, the only son of His Father, has a great inheritance that He wants to share with us. He loved us so much that He evidenced that love by dying for us. Now He calls us to see the grace and forgiveness, “the joy unspeakable, and full of glory” that He offers and to accept His offer by faith. This is Jesus, whom having not seen, we can absolutely love. Like Rebekah, we may not have seen His face yet, but we would have to be completely blind in order to miss all the things He has done for us and now offers us through faith in Him. Now in anticipation, we can look forward to the day when like Rebekah, we will finally meet the one Who has done so much for us.
Food for thought: Who is it that we love even though we haven’t seen? Why can we love Him?