I Peter 4 Part 2–Live as if There is No Tomorrow

Peter was truly living as if it was the end times. They were difficult years for the new church. Peter wanted the young church to realize that it was not an easy path.  He did want them to know that the eternal road ahead was critical. Peter encouraged the people to focus on the walk and be sober-minded and have expectations for trials. Knowing that Peter’s message is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.
 
Live as if the end is near.  Love people like they will be gone soon. conduct yourself as if it is how you want to be remembered. Leave a good reputation behind.  Show love and grace.  Act with class and character.  Do not be amazed when you suffer as a Christian.  It is the rule, not the exception.  Make sure God is honored in your response to suffering.  It is a journey that requires grace and discipline.  So live as if you expect to meet trials and tribulations and feel blessed and honored that God trusts you enough to go through it. 
 
God Bless You

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Suffering as a Christian

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[c]

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

I Peter 3 Part 2–Living Lives of Distinction

Peter, more than anyone could understand the importance of living a life that honors Christ despite the reaction of the world. He was the guy that denied Christ during Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. He was the one Jesus specifically asked to feed His sheep.  He was the one God had to scold about what God makes clean, is clean indeed.  He was the one Paul got onto for ignoring the Gentiles when the Jewish church folk came to town.  Peter was real, he was not perfect.  Peter was also responsible for thousands of folks coming to Christ. 
 
So, when Peter says the best way to honor God is to live in unity, humility, and holiness, one can count on the fact he taught from experience. It is very easy to understand that our lives affect the lives of others.  Our attitudes, behavior, and response to struggles are apparent for all to see.  That is why it is incumbent that Christians live lives that honor and glorify God. All of our actions, our behaviors, and our discussions are there for the world to expose and criticize the faith.   We have to be the people that show our relationship with the Lord truly makes a difference in how we behave and how we respond.  As we live our lives in that way we will be distinct from the crowd.  In addition, that distinction will draw others to Christ, and it will help us to grow stronger and more like Him each day.
 
God Bless You

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

I Peter 3 Part 1–Wives and Husbands

Truly one of the most important roles in life is the roles we lead in marriage. Peter discusses the roles in a very specific and direct way.  First, he talks about how critical a wife is to the spiritual condition of her husband and of her family.  Peter tells wives that their respect for their husbands could be the greatest evangelistic tool in their toolbelt.  Men who see Christ in the lives of their wives are more apt to seek him.  In addition, as he talks about wives, Peter says for them to look on the inside and assure it is right before worrying about hair and make-up.  In short, there is so much beauty that Christ produces within us, that it will greatly outshine any outfit, jewelry or ensemble that can be assembled. 
 
Peter also speaks to the Husband.  Husbands are to treat their wives with honor.  Husbands are to lead with grace and realize the critical role their wives have in the family. Wives make the house a home and the group of humans a family.  It is not the role of master-servant, it is the role of CEO and COO.  Husbands are to lead and face the daily battles of provision and protection of their families and their homes. But, that is impossible without a person doing the day to day operation of the home.  With what is provided, wives raise the family and teach them decorum, survival, salvation, and socialization. Husbands that do not understand how critical their spouse is to the survival of the family fail in being the leader God calls them to be. I not only respect my wife and love her; I truly stand amazed at all she has accomplished despite me and my battles in life. She is amazing on all fronts and counts. As a family, we are not worthy of her, but, we are sure grateful that she is who she is–the Chief Operating Officer of this group.  She deserves all the respect and praise available but continues with or without it. Thanks, Wives and Moms (ESPECIALLY MINE) for all that you do!
 
God Bless You

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

James 5 Part 1–Wealth Management

In Philippians 4, Paul lays out his plan for success quite succinctly. Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content in all circumstances. Whether well fed or hungry living in plenty or in want that he could do all things through Christ Who strengthens him. (Phil 4:12-13)  In these verses from James, the author takes the negative side of that argument.  He tells the people who have had plenty and rely upon their riches and wealth for security and peace that they will come to a long and brutal end. Conversely, he tells those that have struggled not to lose hope, that God will provide in His time and in His way.  In short, James tells the people that they need to be content in serving and trusting God no matter what their circumstances may bring.  
 
Fast forward to this week of Thanksgiving.  We as God’s chosen still need to fully rely upon God. If we are wealthy and have all the security we think we need, that is when we should seek Him and lay all that we have on the altar for Him to bless.  When God blesses us with wealth; it is to prepare us to rely upon Him despite our feeling of self-sufficiency.  That is often difficult, but when one finds the ability to be free from their dependence upon their own wealth, it allows God to bless them even more.  Conversely, when one acts completely self-sufficient, they never are quite satisfied, nor are they ever quite secure in their wealth.  Their wealth becomes their prison and they never are free to enjoy the life God has given them. 
 
As for those that struggle to make ends meet; they face the same drama. They live in constant fear of losing what they have. They are always chasing ways to make circumstances better.  James tells such folks, be patient, do not grumble and trust God to prepare, provide and protect you in your journey.  There is very little actual difference in cause and effect. In all circumstances, we must choose to rely upon God for everything we have and how we proceed in the journey. If we will do that, God will, in his time, bless us. If we choose to rely upon our own power, we will sadly find no peace. Solomon said it best, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6
 
God Bless You

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

James 4 Part 2–Don’t Lie, Judge or Think You Have It All Together

James gets to the heart of Life. Christians need not lie about each other, judge each other or take life for granted. All those traits represent personal pridefulness. If one starts gossiping and telling lies about another,  to somehow improve their own image; they are simply replacing God and His view with a prideful and selfish view of their own. The same is true when people start judging each other. It is so fun and gratifying to look at another in their personal circumstances and cast judgment on who they are or what they have or should have done.   Truth is, no one has a right to judge another. God controls circumstance and allows things to occur in the lives of folks without explanation or reason.  Look at Joseph, Moses, David or Job and see that there is no way for those men to understand their life path from where they were.  We can see it thousands of years later–but, while they were in the midst of it–for them it was inexplicable.  Job’s friends judged him and told him everything he did wrong–and it almost cost them their lives.  We are not called to judge, we are called to love and minister to folks right where they are.
 
Finally, we need not be proud of our own path or destiny. Many have fallen from great distances in life never understanding why or how to recover. So, when one smugly says to himself that he has a plan and intends to execute it to the letter–It is simply a form of pride. God tells us to trust and follow Him. If we will He will give us a purposeful and meaningful life. No promise of riches, no promise of ease. He simply promises to love us and walk through whatever trial with us. That is itself the greatest gift. We must not presuppose we have life figured out. We are one Dr. Appt, one job loss, one wayward child away from our lives being turned upside down. God encourages us to trust Him and follow Him.  He has a plan for us and it is a plan to sanctify us and make us eternally focused and spirit-filled. Help me Lord to simply trust and follow you.
 
God Bless You

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 3 Part 1–Watching Our Tongues

James starts to get personal in Chapter 3.  As God’s kids, we do our best to stay away from the “Big Sins”; killing, stealing, and sexual sin. But, James began discussing our tongues. Gossip, berating others, cursing, telling lies, filthy jokes…you get the picture.  God knew from the beginning the devastation caused by our evil use of our mouths. So many lives have been ruined by harsh language and gossip. We can issue a great deal of pain to our spouses and our children by failing to manage our words and our tones.  James tells the people that big ships are controlled by a little rudder–so lives are controlled by the tongue.
 
The tongue can be a source of life or death. God calls us to use our tongues as a source of life.  Earlier, James reminded the people to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry! We are to speak life to people. We encourage, we pray and we share the gospel. We speak the truth in love and always seek ways to use our language to make people better.  There is no need to be harsh, coarse. deceptive or manipulative.  Simply, speak the truth and seek to point people to faith and not from it.  One of the great sadnesses in life is to hear that Christians, by their words, do more to keep people from wanting to know God.  So, as James has so eloquently put it–control your tongue and you will be a superstar to the church!
 
God Bless You

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

I Timothy 6 Part 1–Learn To Be Content

Paul winds up the discussion with Timothy focused upon learning to be content. He had discussed the misuse of benevolence among the people and told Timothy that people would try to take advantage of the kindness of the church–do not let them.  Make families care for their own and make sure that people do not try to manipulate the truth for personal gain.  He reminded Timothy to focus on what is critical not on the things that cause senseless arguing and strife.  Mostly, though Paul reminded Timothy to teach and be content. As long as you have food to eat and clothes on our back one needs to be grateful and content.
 
Sadly, then and now, money has a hold on us all. We have to have money to live. In our culture, money not only buys things, but it gives power and influence. It is so easy to make money one’s daily obsession. Sadly, it never satisfies, and if allowed becomes Lord and Master. Paul reminds Timothy that becoming content with what one has is the basis for a great walk with God. Chasing money and things conversely lead to being miserable and destroying our lives. Our prayer needs to be one of gratefulness and humility. Never holding so tight to the things of this world that we lose our focus on Christ and His kingdom.  Paul said it best in Philippians 4, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances, whether well fed or hungry living in plenty and in want, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13.
 
God Bless You

These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.