I Peter 4 Part 1–Spiritual Discipline and Christ-like Love

Peter reminds his readers that they are facing the end times.  As such, they need to live with a focus on the eternal and not the temporal. He reminds them that they can no longer chase the passions of the world, but must live in a manner that is worthy of God.  Peter stressed that they had to quit chasing the things that give instant gratification–sexual sin, materialism, selfishness, and lawlessness. He calls them to be self-controlled, sober-minded and prayerful.  He also reminds them to love earnestly and act hospitably to others. 
 
Nothing has really changed, people are still chasing little gods like lust, greed, sensuality and instant gratification. they now worship their phones, i-pads, computer screens, and TV.   We fall into the trap of living in the “Grand Illusion” as sung about by an 80’s rock band Styx. The illusion makes us think that what we see on the screen is a reality, when in fact we live lives that are not nearly so glamorous but so much more substantial. Still, we need to be self-controlled, sober-minded, loving and hospitable.  Peter reminds us that earnestly loving folks covers a multitude of sins. We need to live as ones who are headed for an eternity with the Lord, not just living in the here and now.  If we will, we will experience more life than we can imagine.  Additionally, we will leave a mark of love and compassion that will last well beyond our time here on earth. 
 
God Bless You

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 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:

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 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.

2 Timothy 3 Part 2–The Bible-Life Sustaining Weapon and Tool

What keeps from falling prey to the attacks of the enemy? One of the chief tools is God’s holy word.  The Bible is no ordinary book. 66 separate books written by 40 authors over hundreds of years. It is the true message from our creator and the author of the universe. It has been the center of controversy for millennia and the guide to the formation of governments, foundations of education and creation of Churches, families and some of the greatest leaders of all time.  The Bible is dynamic–Its message tailored to fit each person at the place they are in their lives.  It is used for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.  Paul wanted to give his young friend a grasp of the vital nature of understanding the word of God.  The Faith, the Church, and Christianity, in general, would not grow or remained sustained without the clear message that God’s word provided.
 
In our lives, we are still very dependent upon the message from God.  The Bible is as relevant today as the words of God were 2000 years ago.  We still gain a great wealth of knowledge from the lives of the people in the Bible, the messages of the Bible, and Spirit’s leading through the Bible. If we continue to draw from its message each day, we can battle through the spiritual battles this journey throws at us.  We can never lose heart, nor can we ever lose hope.  Amazingly, faith hope and love are promised by Paul in God’s word. One need not be a Bible scholar to use God’s word. We must simply ask God to lead us through and spend time digging in and reading each day. If we will, then God will use His word to build our lives and grow us into the people He has called us to be!
 
God Bless You

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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.

I Timothy 5 Part 1–Treating People With Dignity

Paul continues his instruction to Timothy by reminding Him that all people should be treated with respect. Old Men should be treated as fathers, young me as brothers, etc. No matter one’s personal sentiment, it is critical that the church act with kindness, tenderness, and wisdom.  In addition, the Church needs to be ready to serve the poor, the infirm and the abandoned.  BUT, not if those people have a family to care for them. Part of treating folks with respect is accepting the responsibility to care for one’s own–even when it is inconvenient.  Paul also reminded Timothy to make sure those in need were properly placed in that category–not there simply to take advantage.  
 
In our current world, many have lost the ability to be respectful.  Unless there is a personal advantage, our culture dehumanizes about every group with need. The old, the poor, the abandoned and the unborn all have been tossed aside as useless and treated as simple inconveniences. The church must do better. We need to treat all people with proper care and respect.  We need to champion the ones left behind.  We need to honor those that have faced life’s battles.  We need to live lives that show kindness and selflessness. We need to be kind, selfless and respectful.  We are to be in the world, but not of the world.
 
God Bless You

 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and  continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.