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 2 Part 2–Fear God, Love the Brothers and Honor the King

Peter gets to the heart of living the Christian Life.  As God’s kids, we have to live in a way that honors the Lord.  That means that as we are in the world, our actions should not detract from the glory of God. One of the most telling verses is verse 17–Show proper respect to everyone…Love the family of God, Fear the Lord and Honor the Emporer. Simply stated, our treatment of family, friends, and authority speaks volumes about who we are in Christ. If we claim to follow God but then are irreverent, then we will not have the respect or credibility as we live each day. If we claim to be people of faith but ignore the folks we are worshipping with it makes the faith ring hollow. Finally, if we claim to live holy lives, but are in constant trouble with those in authority we not only dishonor ourselves–but, we dishonor God.
 
We are to be people that love each other, support each other and Honor God before those in authority.  In a culture that is so self-absorbed that there is little respect for anyone; we need to be the ones that stand up and act differently. By being the ones that fear God, love the brothers and honor the king, we show Christ and honor Him in all sections of our lives. In addition, we will be able to live lives of peace and have a purpose that is so much bigger than ourselves. Living under authority is an amazing experience.  We must disregard the culture that respects no one.  We must be Holy as God calls us to be; it will impact our lives and the lives of so many others!
 
God Bless You

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[e]

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[f] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.


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 2 Part 1–Loving Folks, Baggage and All

It is simply easier to love beautiful people. People that are wealthy, healthy and free of life’s baggage are often given preference and position. Those that struggle with life, with finances and have difficult journeys are often avoided and forgotten in the world.  James says the Church must be different! As a community, the Church must not show favoritism and it must take folks warts and all. That is the example the Lord showed by loving tax collectors and sinners of all sorts, healing the sick, crippled and dead. James is reminding the Church that it is truly our place to love people as they are and never look back. 
 
It is a tall order to simply love folks as they are. People drive us crazy. Their attitudes and actions may be maddening, but then the Church can be a part of seeking to save that which is lost. One simply needs to look at their own lives to realize we all have our own sets of baggage. That is why we must not serve as judges, but instead as a family to those with needs. As we do that, the communities we live in will grow strong and our hearts will grow rich. Selflessness will bring purpose and those touched will then touch others. We are called to be different. As a community, loving each other no matter what will set us apart from the rest of this selfish, biased world!
 
God Bless You

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

2 Timothy 3 Part 1–Choose the Life You Want

Sorry for being away for a couple of days; Paul was reviewing hos life and preparing Timothy. Paul knew that his end was drawing near.  As he was counseling his friend, Paul stopped and did an evaluation of people in his time. Sadly, it was not flattering.  The basis of life is where one’s lordship lies. It is either based on God being Lord of one’s life or one trying to captain their own ship.  Paul in his evaluation highlighted some of the telltale signs of one that masters his own ship. People that captain their own ship are selfish and abusive in the difficult times and boastful, self-indulgent and brash in the good ones.  At the end of the day, they are the center of their own agenda at all times. Amazingly, those that live like that are never happy, content or at peace.  They are always looking for the next thing, the next excuse or the next person to blame.  
 
Conversely, those that love the Lord seek to serve others. They are content with their own circumstances and look for ways to help and improve the lives of others.  They rise each day seeking God and his direction. They spend their days being kind and selfless. They leave a legacy of selflessness and graciousness that long outlives them.  They are at peace with God being in control and only want what He has planned for their lives.  We rise each day with the opportunity to pick the life we want to live.  The world would have us be self-absorbed. The Lord would have us follow and trust Him.  Joshua says it best. Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
 
God Bless You

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

I Timothy 2 Part 1–The Heart of Worship

First and foremost pray. That was Paul’s message to Timothy. Pray for whom we ask–Kings and everyone in authority. What a great way to start a discussion of Worship.  From Paul’s perspective prayer is the heart of worship.  Prayer is talking to God. intimate communication with our Creator, Savior, and Lord.  Without prayer, we are floating aimlessly through life.  It is a great gift to be able to praise, thank, confess, and seek out God’s direction for our lives.  The Church simply does not function in an environment that is void of prayer and worship.  
 
Worship is an attitude of gratefulness and intimacy with God. We long to be like Him and with Him more than anything else.  We focus on who God is not how we are dressed or who we can impress. We simply seek to know God and become like Him in our thoughts, speech, and actions.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, we are able to approach God’s throne with our deepest needs and concerns.  He wants that and is glad to welcome us to share our hearts and desires. 
 
In that, we need to approach with a humble heart and a spirit of thanksgiving. We need to trust the Lord to do what is the best fo our lives. He is not “Amazon” where we make our 1 click orders. No, He is our Heavenly Father that wants to prepare us for an eternity with Him. We are blessed to approach Him and long to worship Him. Help me, Lord to approach You with the proper spirit of worship.
 
God Bless You

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.