I Peter 1 Part 2–How to Live in a Crazy World

So when listing out the components of a Christ-like life, Peter highlights three critical pieces. First, live lives that are alert, sober, and holy. It is critical that we as the church pay attention to what is going on around us.  We live in a culture that is only steps away from Christian persecution.  We, as a nation, have moved from a nation founded on Christian principles to a nation that has moved to eradicate God from any and all public and government displays.  As is often the case, our efforts to separate God from the government have left a void that is being filled with chaos and unrest.  As a church, it is our responsibility to continue to stand for God and separate ourselves from the Chaotic self-absorption that captures our culture. 
 
Second, we need to live as a foreigner in a strange land.  We cannot focus on this world as being our home.  As ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:19) we need to live as citizens of eternity with our heart and allegiance focused there.   We cannot become too invested or in love with this aspect of life.  We live in this world but do not identify with its culture or desires. Our allegiance to Heaven may cost us, but in the long run it will provide hope and a future unmatched by the finest of this world’s treasures.
 
Finally, we love deeply those that are a part of the body of Christ.  Since we do not live as a part of this world, we will not be loved by this world. Knowing that, we must show love to one another.  We must be ready at all times to stand firm and support those who are a part of God’s family.  As we do, our unity will set us apart and draw others to Christ. 
 
Be Holy, set your focus on the eternal and finally love and support others in the family.  That is a worthy call. A call for the Chosen of God!
 
God Bless You

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[b] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”[c]

And this is the word that was preached to you.

I Peter 1 part 1–Our Great Salvation

Peter reaches out to the churches with a very “Peter-like” view of faith.  Peter was the apostle that was pragmatic. His faith was as real and raw as any person could imagine.  Peter was the one that on at least two occasions saw Jesus fill his boat with fish. Peter walked on water. Peter rushed into the empty tomb. Peter had the vision of the ultimate barbeque in Joppa. Peter led the first gentiles into the kingdom.  Still, Peter was also the apostle that denied Jesus, that looked at the waves and sank, that distanced himself from the gentiles when the Church leaders showed up. Peter was real.  He faced life and death as a frail but completely committed man of God.
 
So, when Peter speaks of the grace and salvation we as God’s chosen receive, he does so as a person that has experienced it personally with Christ and because of Christ. Peter’s unique walk with Christ helped him to truly know Christ’s love and forgiveness.  What is more, Peter is commending those that did not walk daily with Jesus for the faith given to them by God’s Spirit.  In short, we know God and are devoted to Him by faith and without His physical presence; something that not even the angels have experienced.  We are truly blessed and are truly redeemed by faith.  In this season of Thanksgiving, we should be grateful to know Christ and walk with Him.  
 
Like Peter, we face life raw. We are not perfect, but we are redeemed. We are not omniscient, but, we are filled with the God who is! We are not omnipotent, but our Father is. We are not omnipresent, but we serve the God that has been there and done that. We, therefore, benefit from all that God is because of who and Whose we are in Him.  No apostle, not even Paul, understood redemption any more than did Peter. Peter reminds us that our redemption is a gift of love that is indescribable, irreplaceable, and infinite. We will never deserve it, and that is why we so freely partake of it. Help us, Lord, to grasp the enormity of our salvation and to rest peaceably in it.
 
God Bless You and Happy Thanksgiving!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

James 5 Final–Prayer, The Greater Work

When in doubt, PRAY! In College, I was blessed to be a part of a mission project with Campus Crusade for Christ. During that summer I learned several things about God’s provision and God’s execution of His plan in people’s lives.  Our leader taught us a great deal about taking our relationship with God deeper.  One statement he made, a quote from Oswald Chambers, stuck with me and has guided me through the last 36 years. “Prayer is not the preparation for the greater work, it is the greater work.”
James closes his letter to the church with the value and urgency of prayer. Prayer is our vehicle to give God the adoration He deserves. Prayer allows us to thank God for all He has provided and done in our lives. Prayer gives us the ability to come clean when we try to retake the throne of our lives or try to stray from what we know to be the truth. Finally, Prayer is the place we come to seek the help and direction of our creator and Heavenly Father.
 
God always has time for us to pray. He always listens. He is quick to forgive, quick to redeem, and quick to protect, provide and prepare us for the mission we are on.  Like any dad, God is specifically interested and concerned about all aspects of our lives. He loves the victories, He aches with us through the defeats. He wants to heal, to restore and to redeem–if we will allow Him to do so in His way and time.  God continues to remind us that we are never too old, nor too experienced to see Him respond in amazing ways to prayer.  We simply need to make prayer the first alternative and not the last.  We also need to patiently wait and seek His will and plan for our lives–NOT ours disguised in spirituality. 
 
Finally, know that while God will always meet us where we are, that does not mean that He does not know what is on our hearts and mind. We do not need to play games with God. We simply need to face Him and speak the truth. He has big shoulders. He can take it.  He knows our deepest thoughts.  We must pray honestly. There was a period in my life where I could only pray one simple prayer–“Lord grant me enough faith to continue to pray for faith!” He always listens and always knows our hearts.  Thank You, Lord, for making prayer the greater work! Help me to seek You first and foremost in this journey.
 
God Bless You


13 
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

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 4 Part 1–Friendship With the World Means Enmity With God

It simply will never work, Since man’s fall in the garden, the stark choice has always been who will be Lord of your life. Sadly, most times, men have chosen to make themselves the Lord’s of their lives. Oh, sure they may but a thin veil of spirituality over it, but in the end, people either choose to serve God or serve themselves. History has repeatedly reminded us that when men serve God, they have a life of purpose and order. Those that have chosen to follow God have left legacies that still shine long past their short time on earth.  Conversely, those that have been so captivated by themselves, have died alone and without honor or love. 
 
James is clear, God honors those that humbly follow His lead. When we take the lead in our life, we devolve into a confused and chaotic mess.  When we stand for the Lord and submit to his lead, we experience peace and purpose. Allowing our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord to run our lives is the easiest way to experience the most we could ever hope or dream.  It is not that God makes it easy, it is that God knows His plan to give us a full and meaningful life. We must trust the Lord to execute that plan–even when it seems hopeless.  We can never succumb to the world’s lies and deceit. We must follow Christ’s words, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6:33.  Humility and grace will fill our lives with meaning and purpose. Trusting the world will fill us with hopelessness and defeat.  Choose this day whom you will serve…
 
God Bless You

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 3 Part 2–God’s Wisdom Brings Change

There is a major difference between being smart and being wise.  James took the time to make the distinction.  James wanted to clarify that wisdom provides more than an understanding of facts and formulas. Wisdom was a gift that produced life change.  As James looked through his community, those that had wisdom were very noticeable–because they lived great lives. People that were smart (earthly wisdom) behaved selfishly and had chaotic lives. They displayed all the characteristics of a selfish fool. In the end, they were miserable, lost and alone. They found that all of the gains they made in life were for nothing–hollow and meaningless.
 
Conversely, seeking God’s wisdom quickly showed up in one’s lifestyle. Selfless, peaceful, considerate and fruitful lives were the hallmark of the wise.  God freely gives wisdom to all who faithfully ask for it. (James 1:5). As we begin to incorporate God’s wisdom into our lives, however, we cannot help but become like Him. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  As we seek God and His righteousness we gain wisdom that not only assists us in navigating the troubled waters of this life; but, it also prepares us for the eternity we will spend with the Lord. we cannot help but be a different Godly person. We quickly distinguish ourselves from the world and its chaos. God’s wisdom is pure, it is complete and it is eternal. Seek God and ask for it–James tells us God is glad to share!!!
 
God Bless You

 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.