Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Despising authority

…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, - 2 Peter 2.9-10

2 Peter, like Jude, talks a lot about false teachers and the things that characterise them. In this section we read some descriptions of those who are ‘reserved for judgement.’ 

To me it just makes sense that we ought to avoid anything that makes us look like we are amongst those ‘reserved for judgement.’ For most of these believers don’t have a hard time acknowledging that we should avoid them. 

But there are a couple of things here where we may not be quite so careful. Here we read that these false teachers ‘despise authorities’ and ‘speak evil of dignitaries.’ 

It would be nice if we could make this apply only to spiritual authorities and dignitaries and we may make a case for the ‘dignitaries’ being angels and heavenly beings, but we are stuck even then with comment about despising authorities. 

When I compare this with verse that tell us to ‘speak evil of no man’ and ‘honour the king’ it makes me wonder why we, as God’s people, get involved in anything that even looks like we reject authority and speak evil of dignitaries. It makes me wonder what good it actually does and how it affects our testimony. 

Sure, in our free countries we have the right to be critical of and disagree with laws and polices and all that, but does that really mean that we need to look like  the lost who reject authority? 

Since it really does no good for eternity, and very little good for the temporal, why do we do it? 

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Lot conundrum

and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, - 2 Peter 2.7-9

I have a few conundrum verses. Study as I might, I never seem to really get it. I have studied this verse several times and keep coming up with the same answer – though it doesn’t seem to fit into my way of thinking. 

The subject here is Lot, righteous Lot if you will. 

Now, when I think of Lot I can think of a lot of words to describe him. 

Remember Lot? 

He pitched his tent toward wicked Sodom
He moved his family there
He sat at the gates of the city with the leaders
He offered his daughters when the wicked men of the city demanded he send out his male visitors
And then, while drunk, he had sex with his daughters

Rightoeus doesn't seem like the right word to describe him. 

But here, in the context of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we read that God delivered righteous Lot. 

I have to admit that my human reasoning doesn’t get this. How could Lot be righteous with all that he did? Peter says here that Lot vexed and tormented himself by spending time with the wicked and watching their lifestyle. He was in a mess because of mingling with the world. 

Even in his case though God knew how to deliver Lot. Despite the fact that he was not living righteously he was righteous in God’s sight. 

I still don’t get it. All I can take from this is that we can’t always judge a man’s standing with God by the life he is living. Lot is a picture of what happens when God’s people get themselves in a mess by staying close to wickedness. It is going to torment us and cause us all kinds of trouble. But, at the end of the day, if we are truly Christ’s He can still deliver us. 

Instead of saying something like ‘if Lot is righteous then I can do whatever I want’ we ought to say ‘what a mess Lot made of his life because he would not separate from the world’ and avoid the trouble he got himself into.  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A few words on Palm Sunday

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. - Matthew 21.6-11

Today we start the most important week in our ‘church calendar.’ I am always intrigued by the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. On what we now call ‘Palm Sunday’ Jesus entered Jerusalem to praise and adulation and the messiah and king of the people. They were ready to be delivered from  the occupying Roman troops. Their deliverer was here. 

But they missed something. In just a few days these same people would be screaming ‘crucify Him’ with blood thirst in their hearts. 

What happened? How did ‘hosannah’ become ‘kill him?’ 

The people really missed the boat. They were praising Jesus, not for who He was, but for that He was going to do for them. He did not give them what they wanted. In their minds he failed. 

That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? How could they do that. How could they judge Jesus not for who He was, but for what He did? 

How indeed? 

But don’t we tend to do the same thing? What do we do when Jesus doesn’t do things they way we think he should? Do we ever act the way they did? Do you ever feel like He has failed you? 

We need to have the trust that these folks didn’t have. We need to learn to trust even when it doesn’t seem that it is working

Saturday, 28 March 2015


By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2.3

Peter’s warning against the false teachers continues. Here is warns us exactly how they are going to approach us and what they are going to do to get us. 

Covetousness is a major problem for mankind. And, unfortunately, it is a problem even for God’s people. Satan knows our weakness – so his false teachers are going to exploit us with deceptive words and they are going to use our covetousness to do it. 

What is scary is the other part of the verse – they have been at this for a long time. They have not been idle in their condemnation. Their destruction doesn’t rest. 

So the false teachers are out to deceive us. Being deceptive means that they are going to be sneaky in their approach. They are not normally going to confront us head on. The false teachers are going to stealthily try to appeal to our lusts to exploit us. 

There is no easy way. The false teachers promise us quick spirituality or instant holiness or maybe license to sin  or even riches or popularity or any number of things that are the easy way through. We must not be deceived by those who offer us what we want. God’s will as revealed in His word must be our desire and our goal. 

We are not going to get that through the deception of false teachers.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The confirmed word

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.– 2 Peter 1.16-21

Peter was in a select group with James and John who was called up onto a mountain with Jesus. Jesus took them up for what we call ‘The Transfiguration.’ While there they see Jesus transfigured and they here the voice of God identifying Jesus as His Son. 

Peter, James, and John actually heard the voice of God. 

What a momentous event. Surely hearing the voice of God would be the most important thing that would ever happen to them. They had actually heard the voice of God!

But Peter uses that event to tell us that there is something even more reliable than hearing God’s voice. He says that the confirmation, or the assurance of God’s word comes through His written word. The Bible does not come from any human author, but it originates as those authors are moved by the Holy Spirit. 

The wonderful thing about the written scriptures is that we don’t have to depend on our memories. We always have the written word to confirm what God says. We can open God’s word in 5, 10, 20, or 50 years and it will read the same. I’ve seen second century manuscripts in a museum in Dublin. Matt, who reads Greek, was able to read and translate them and they say the same things our Bible says today. 

Thank God for His written word. It is there for everyone and it doesn’t change. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

When we are gone

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. – 2 Peter 1.12-15

I like Peter’s determination. I like his dedication to the cause of Christ. He wanted to be sure that his work had an impact for Christ and he wanted it to go on even after he ‘put off his tent’ of flesh. 

When I think about this kind of dedication I remember back to the days surrounding and after the crucifixion and resurrection. I remember how three times he had denied Christ. I then remember Jesus’ words to Peter to ‘feed my sheep.’

Peter must have taken that charge seriously because here, toward the end of his life, he expresses his desire to keep on reminding and stirring up the hearts of other believers. 

Though were are not apostles who knew Jesus like Peter did, but we all are ‘apostles’ in the sense that we are ones who have been ‘sent out’ to do a work for Christ. And, like Peter, it a mission that should consume our lives. 

But Peter goes a step even further. He suggests that he desires that his testimony will endure after his life. He wants to leave a legacy for Christ. 

I think we should all have that same desire. Our work for Christ should not die with us. We should live our lives is such a way that our testimony impacts others after we are gone. We can only do that by leaving an example that others can learn from. We need to be faithful in sharing Christ with others. We need to be careful in encouraging and building up fellow believers. We need to love in such away that others learn to love from. 

I am at an age now where I can remember Christians who are now in heaven. They are a part of who I am today. 

What kind of impact are we leaving for those who will be here when we are gone?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Be sure

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1.10-11

In an earlier verse we read about being diligent and how important it is to be diligent about adding to our faith.  

Here Peter says to ‘be even more diligent’ about something.  He says to be ‘even more diligent’ to make our ‘calling and election sure.’ 

Though we never want to get anyone to doubt their genuine salvation it is important that everyone who professes Christ be sure of their salvation. There is no such thing as a maybe salvation or an ‘I think so’ salvation. We are told in another place to examine ourselves to make sure that we are in the faith. Hebrews lets us know that there are plenty professors who are not possessors. 

Self-examination should be part of the believer’s lief. It goes a little farther what just ‘yeah, I prayed a prayer a few years ago.’ Professors need to be sure that it was not only words, but that there is faith behind those words. 

The truth is that is there is real, living faith in our lives they are going to be different. If there is no works than the faith is proclaim in dead faith. 

None of us are perfect. We are never going to be totally sin-less. But if there is no difference between us and the world then we need to do some checking and we need to be extra diligent about it. There is nothing more important for us to be sure about. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Neither barren no unfruitful

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1.8

We just read about God’s great and precious promises and here is another one for us. Peter tells us that is we allow the divine power of God to work on our lives, if we are resting on God’s promises, and if we are doing the adding God wants us to do we can be assured that we are not going to be barren or unfruitful in knowing Christ. 

I don’t think there is much sadder than being an unfruitful Christian. I spent a good deal of my life thinking that the only fruit that mattered was the number of people won to Christ. I would never deny the importance of that fruit bearing – but that is not all there is to being fruitful. 

Being fruitful also showing the love of Christ Being fruitful is showing love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. Being fruitful is, in short, being Christlike in my actions and words and attitudes and facing opposition and dealing with others and all I say and do. 

There is no need to be barren in these areas. And there is no excuse. We have all we need to be fruit-bearers. 

I need to trust in the diving power Christ provides. I need to rest in His promise. I need to do the adding. And then I need to stand on the promise and watch the Holy Spirit produce fruit in me.

Monday, 23 March 2015


But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. – 2 Peter 1.5-7

We have been reading a lot about all that God does for us. He empowers and strengthens us and makes makes great and precious promises that we can depend on. 

But here we read about what we are supposed to do. We know we are supposed to do it and that it is important and because God has done all that He has done we are to ‘give all diligence’ to do what we are supposed to do. That means we are to be serious about doing what He wants us to do. 

We are to diligent about adding to our faith. 

Add to your faith virtue, 
Add to virtue knowledge, 
Add to knowledge self-control, 
Add to self-control perseverance, 
Add to perseverance godliness,
Add to godliness brotherly kindness, 
Add to brotherly kindness love.

It would be interesting to stop and look at every word and examine the progression here, but I just want to focus and the basis and the ultimate goal. 

The basis is faith. Without that all the rest would be nothing more than a collection of good works. 

But the result is something we see over and over. The end result to all of this adding is love. That is our focus and our goal. We are told that of faith, hope, and love the greatest is love. We are told to put on love above all things. Jesus summarised the Law with the words ‘love God and love others.’

Our trademark should be love. When people think of me the first thing they should think about is my love. 

Where is love in my priority list? Where should it be? 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Standing on the promises

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. – 2 Peter 1.2-4

Promises are a funny thing. We humans make promises, but that can be a dangerous thing to do because we really can’t be sure that we are going to be able to do what we promise. I have tried with my children and grandchildren never to promise them things because I never know what is going to happen. 

Isn’t it great that we have a God who makes promises and who is God enough that He can’t break His promises? 

There are loads of promises in the Bible. Thousands and thousand of them spring from its page. They are great and precious and they will be fulfilled. I hate to even start because there are so many important ones that I will miss. 

Christ promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. 
Christ promises that He will supply all our needs
Christ promises that He will empower us 
Christ promises that He will go with us wherever we 
Christ promises His peace
Christ promises to carry our burdens
Christ promises that if we focus on righteousness He will take care of everything else

We have all of these promises and so many more. I can’t help but remember a great old gospel song. 

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, 
through eternal ages let his praises ring; 
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, 
standing on the promises of God.  

Standing on the promises that cannot fail, 
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, 
by the living Word of God I shall prevail, 
standing on the promises of God. 

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, 
bound to him eternally by love's strong cord, 
overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword, 
standing on the promises of God. 

Standing on the promises I cannot fall, 
listening every moment to the Spirit's call, 
resting in my Savior as my all in all, 
standing on the promises of God. 

Standing, standing, 
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior; 
standing, standing, 
I'm standing on the promises of God. 

What makes me sad is that I can trust the promise of John 3.16 – but have a hard time standing on the promises of care and provision. 

Lord, help me to stand on all the promises. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Divine power

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. – 2 Peter 2.1-4

Sometimes I feel really powerless when it comes to getting this Christian life right. Why can’t I just do something and get it all sorted and do it all right? 

I don’t really know – but I do know one thing, it is not God’s fault. 

God gives us all we need to live a godly life. He gives us the power to do it. He has empowered us not with human ability, but with His divine power and He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. 

Those words might sound a little confusing, but the truth is really simple. While we are living in this wicked old world and trying to do right we can rest assured that we can’t and we don’t have to do it all alone. We are empowered by the divine power of God to do all that is required of us in life and godliness. 

So when I fail, and I do, it is not a matter of not having the power – I have all I need in Christ. It is a matter of what I choose to do. It is a matter of me choosing my will and my power over God’s will and God’s power. 

God’s divine power is the power of ‘let these be light.’ Surely that is enough power to take care of my life and to give me victory over my sins and temptations. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Like precious faith

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: - 2 Peter 2.1

There is one thing that unifies all of us who have trusted Christ as Saviour. We are different in nationality, skin colour, ethnicity, citizenship, gender, social class, and standing in society. We are rich and poor and strong and weak and healthy and ill and fit and unfit and so many other things. 

But there is one thing that unifies us. 

I have not travelled a lot, but I have been with Christians in a few cultures and places. I have been in churches and Bible studies all over America and several parts of Europe. Zeke and I were on a rugby trip to Wales and stopped in to a little church off the beaten path for their prayer meeting. There were 7-8 elderly people there. We found something in common. Mary and I did the same thing on a Wednesday night up in Letterkenny. I had the joy of spending a few days with a wonderful church in Hungary. 

And then we have our little church. We have had believers come through and spend time with us from Ireland, the US (several states), the UK (from England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland), France, Spain, Germany, the Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan, Iceland, Malta, Poland, the Philippines, Canada, and I am sure I missed a couple. 

We have had a lot of differences. There are a lot of fun memories of those differences. 

But, we all have one thing in common. 

We have all obtained that like precious faith. That like precious faith breaks down all those barriers. It makes us all one in Christ. 

And I find that you often sense that unity before you even know the other person. I can remember at least three times when I have met a stranger here and knew there were fellow believers. One of us has eventually asked ‘are you a Christian?’ Our like precious faith should make such a difference that it is obvious to those around us. 

Let’s rejoice in out like precious faith. And lets allow our like precious faith to unite us instead of focusing on the petty differences that divide. After all, it is a good thing when brethren dwell together in unity. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The God of all grace

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5.8-11

We can’t leave this verse without the words about how to do what it says. We can’t do any of this on our own. Every time we try we fail.

But we don’t have to do it by ourselves.

We have ‘The God Of All Grace.’ We have all the support we need because we have a God of all grace who will:

Perfect us and mature us and complete us. In all of our imperfections we do have a Perfecter to complete what we lack.

Establish us in the faith so that we know what our basis is during trouble. When He establishes us our foundation is secure.

Strengthen us in our own strengthlessness. We have no strength on our own – we can only endure through His strength.

Settle us during the most troublesome storms and trials and testings. He is our anchor and He will keep us secure.

The testings are real, but praise God that He is All Grace during trials and will give us the amazing grace to endure through ‘many dangers, toils, and snares’ and His grace will ‘lead us home.’

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Steadfast in suffering

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5.8-11

I think it is becoming pretty clear that suffering is part of what we as Christians are to expect. Peter has talked about it a lot and he is not done yet. We have already seen that we have brethren all over the world today who are suffering and we may see the same. 

In addition to the resisting the devil here we have an instruction on how to deal with the suffering which may be a part of the devil’s attack. 

Be steadfast in your faith. No matter how bad it gets we just need to keep on going. When we think we are suffering we need to remember that that is the norm. The same sufferings are experienced by our ‘brotherhood in this world.’ 

There is a key character trait here that we need to grasp. It is a trait that we see exemplified by Bible character after Bible character. I just read a book about Joseph so he is the one who comes to mind. Even through all of his sufferings and struggles and false imprisonments he stayed faithful. Through many dangers toils and snares he remained steadfast in his faith that God would carry Him through. 

God will give us the amazing grace we need to remain steadfast no matter what we face. We simply need to trust that He can do it and obey His word. 

I don’t know what the future holds. I am glad I don’t. It looks kind of scary. But no matter what I need to remember that God will give me the strength to get through it. All I have to do is to is trust Him enough to stay true and faithful and steadfast to Him. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Your adversary

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5.8-11

Nobody really likes to talk about the devil. He seems kind of passé and old fashioned. He seems to fit better in the middle ages than in the high-tech age. Surely that red skinned guy with the pointy tail and horns and pitchfork is not really something to worry about. 

Well, that’s right. That guy is nothing to worry about. 

But the devil, the real devil, is something to worry about. He is real and he is active. He walks about like a roaring lion seeing to find out who he can destroy and devour. He is real and he active and he wants to hinder us all that he can to make us weak and powerless in our service for God. 

That devil is the one we need to be afraid of. 

At points in history people have known about the devil. 

But the world has outgrown Satan. And sadly, too much of the church has outgrown him as well. 

But the devil is still there, lurking and roaming about looking for us in our moments of weakness. We ignore him at our own peril.

James too gave us a warning – resist the devil and he will flee from you. He has no power. We have nothing to fear when we resist him in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Be sober. Be aware. Be vigilant. Don’t get caught off guard. Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

He cares

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5.7

God talks about our cares and our worries a lot. He does that because we tend towards being care-some. We tend to be full of anxieties and fears and worries and frets and bothers. We tend to be ‘care-ful’ as the King James translation puts it in Philippians 4. 

When Jesus was on earth He called everyone with these words – ‘come to me everyone who is weighed down with burdens and I will give you rest.’ He knew that we would face cares and worries and burdens. He knew that our flesh could not handle it. He knew that we would think that we could handle it and if we could not the situation was un-handle-able. So, we would just load up on cares and burdens until we were full of them – careful. 

Paul specifies that instead of being care-ful we need to ‘by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our request be made known to God’ and that when we do that ‘the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep our hearts and minds in Christ.’ 

Peter just says it flat out – ‘cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.’ I think my problem with that is simply a lack of faith – I just really can’t trust that He cares so  I keep carrying my cares with me. 

But there is no need for that. Jesus does care. He cared enough to go to the cross for me. And that’s a heap of care. 

So may we all be strengthened in our faith to trust Him enough to pass on our cares to Him. We do all we can do, and then we leave the rest of to Him so that we don’t get ourselves weighed down to the point that we can’t run the race He calls us to. 

Jesus can handle it. He asks us ot give it over to Him. Let’s trust Him enough to follow through

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Clothed in humility

… be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, - 1 Peter 5.5b-6

Humility goes against our grain. At least it goes against my grain. Pride is always a battle. In a follow up to yesterdays instruction to submit to each other Peter follows up with the ‘how.’

Be clothed with humility. Humble yourselves. 

I have heard it said the ‘humility is that one virtue that when you think you have achieved it you have lost it.’ How do we do it? How do we learn how to be truly humble?

It is really pretty simple if we could just cop on to the humility of Christ. The humility of Christ led Him to the cross in my place. It led His to take on flesh and blood. It led Him to take on the role of a servant. 

With that kind of comparison I have to wonder what my humility it like. When people see Roger do they see a man clothed in humility? 

There is a blessing if we could ever realise and apply the practice of humility – if we humble ourselves to the hand of God the day will come when He will exalt us. 

And I think His exalting will be a lot better than ours. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Submit to one another

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5.5

Submitting to other people is never easy. ‘Why should I submit to him/her? They are no better than I am!’ 

It starts out okay – ‘submit yourselves to your elders.’ Okay, I guess that makes sense. God has given us godly leaders. They are entrusted with our souls. God has given them to us to equip us for our service. I can submit to my spiritual leaders. 

But Peter slips something else in here – all of you be submissive to one another. 

Someone asked be recently what it meant to submit to each other. I think that submitting to each other is a simple as everyone putting everyone else first. 

Submission seems a vital part of faith. Submission is the surest picture of humility. 

So submission is as simple as putting others first. It doesn’t mean that we mindlessly do anything anyone tells us to do – it simple we we submit to other’s needs before ours. These letters are written to the church. Surely I can step back and submit my self interests to the needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

By example

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. – 1 Peter 5.1-4

This passage of course deals mostly with instructions for the elders in the church. But they are things the flock needs to know about as well.  Folks in the church need to know how their leaders are too lead. 

So let’s see how pastors are supposed to pastor.

Shepherd the flock
Don’t do it because you ‘have to’
Shepherd willingly
Don’t do it for your own good
Don’t act like you are a master
Lead by example

I am only going to focus on that last point for today.

Pastors can’t take an attitude that says ‘do as I say not as I do.’ If we want something done we need to lead the way. We need to lead by example. 

A couple of pastors come to mind. I was visiting a pastor and we rode to church together on Sunday morning. When we got there I expected him to do what a lot of pastors do. I expected to see the closest parking space to the front door with a ‘Reserved for the Pastor’ sign on it. Instead, he drove to the furthest spot in the car park. When I asked him why he just said ‘because other people need close parking more than I do.’ 

I know another pastor who has added ‘toilet cleaner’ to his job description. Twice when I have visited the church I have seen him with rubber gloves and a toilet brush. I didn’t even ask, I was just blessed and challenged by his example. 

These seem like petty things, but to me they are good illustrations of shepherding by example instead of lording authority. 

I suspect that if people see the elders leading by that kind of example they are more than willing to serve as well. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Don't be surprised

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. – 1 Peter 4.12-16

Why does it seem like everyone is so surprised that things are starting to go against the church after all these years of not only non conflict, but is the case of many of us we have even had society on our side. In the last 15-20 years it seems that society has really turned top to bottom.

For a long time in part of Europe and the Americas Christians have not only had the acceptance of the world – we have had the help of the world. Many of our countries had laws that protected us and imposed our standards in the world around us.   We have had tax benefits for our churches. Laws have favoured us and our way of life. We have it pretty easy for the last 300-400 years. 

But sadly that has made us a little lazy and complacent. It has led us to trust and put our faith in our government leaders instead of God. 

But the times they are achangin’. 

The moral issues that we once though sacrosanct are falling by the wayside.  Basic standards or decency and morality and right and wrong are all now up in the air.

And it looks like we are finally going to get the persecution the church has endured since day one. 

No one could expect us the rejoice in the fact that we suffer – but we can rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer with Christ. It is not to be unexpected. Don’t be shocked. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The ability God provides

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4.11

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And that includes ministering and serving. 

Ministry can be a tough thing to do. I am not talking about ‘full time vocational ministry’ here but just basic serving each other. Sometimes we give and give and give and pour out our lives and drain ourselves physically and emotionally and spiritually. Sure, we have to be careful to pace ourselves and not ruin our own health, but, saying that, we are still called to a life of serving each other. 

It can seem sometimes that we just can’t minister any more. And, in the flesh, we can’t. We can’t do it on our own because we only have so much. We need to take a break now and then. We need to consider our our health and our families, but we also can’t afford to just stop. 

God is glorified through our ministry to each other. When we find it difficult to serve we can count on God to give us the strength to keep serving. When we minister with His power He is glorified. When I try to serve in my own ability I am going to eventually fail. 

God give me the ability to serve others so that I can remember the ministry Christ had and has for me.  

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Hospitality with right attitude

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. – 1 Peter 4.9-10

The Christian life is about so much more than what we tend to think about as ‘spiritual stuff.’ Actually, a lot more is ‘spiritual stuff’ than we normally consider to be spiritual stuff. 

Hospitality is one of those things. And according to this verse it is not just hospitality, it is hospitality with the right attitude. 

Hospitality means that Christians are to be open and warm and welcoming. The Christians ‘hearth and home’, and hearts as well, should be places where others love to be. 

God wants His people to be hospitable. The first example I can think of is Abraham when visited by three angels who he thought were men. I think the writer of Hebrews had that in mind when he wrote, ‘be sure to be hospitable to strangers, because some who didn’t know it entertained strangers.’ 

I try to figure out why hospitality os such a big deal. I think the second part of the verse gives us a hint. Peter is telling us that our hospitality is a reflection of how much we a aware of the gift of grace that God has given us. When I consider all that Christ has done for  me how can I hold  back any of my life from others. Whatever I have should be used to minister to others because Christ didn’t hold back from me. 

That’s fine. And I am grateful that we have what most people consider to be an open home. I am glad we are considered hospitable. I am glad for many years that or home has been a blessing to others. 

But there is one thing I need to keep a check on. All this hospitality must be done without grumbling. If I do these things with the wrong heart I might as well not do them at all. I need to make sure that my spirit matches up with my actions. Jesus didn’t grumble about what He did for me – how can I grumble about doing for others? 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Above all else - love

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4.8

What do you think should be at the top of the list of things the believer should do in relation to each other? If we had not just read this verse what would be the A1 priority? 

Above all things love each other with a fervent love. I know love is important – we certainly hear enough about it. But this passage says that it must have the primacy. 

Surely there are things more important than love – or are there? Remember how Jesus summarised the law? He said, to put it briefly, ‘love God and love others.’ 

Remember ‘faith, hope, and charity…but the greatest of these is charity?’

How about ‘don’t owe anybody anything but to love each other.’ 

We could go on and on, couldn’t we? I think I am safe to say that the most important thing we have to remember is to love. It is true that there is a special point to loving each other since that is how the world is going to know us, but we are also told to love our enemies. 

I am afraid that we don’t always do so well. I am afraid that non-believers that I know find a loving Christian to be the exception instead of the rule. My brethren these things ought not so to be.

And why is love so important. Why does it have a place of primacy? 

Because if we love it covers a lot of our other flaws. It doesn’t cover them in God’s eyes of course, but if we love people they can overlook a lot of our other weaknesses. True love is so rare that when people see it that is the feature that stands out. 

If people could just see me as a man who loves others it would make a bigger impact than anything I can do. 

So Lord, help me to love above all else. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Serious about prayer

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. – 1 Peter 4.7

Every time I come across a passage that talks about prayer I get smitten by the Holy Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I do pray. I pray every day. I probably pray several times a day in all kinds of situations. 

But when I read a passage like this I realise how far short I fall of what I should be doing. Prayer is a serious business. It is not to be taken lightly. It is not really an option. It can’t be somewhere on my ‘if I get around to it’ list. 

The words Peter writes remind me of the words Jesus said to him and the other disciples in the garden. Jesus said ‘watch and pray so that you don’t enter temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ 

I wonder if Peter was thinking about that when he wrote the words ‘the end is coming, therefore be serious and be watchful in your prayers.’ He knew the danger of not being serious and not be watchful. He knew it was not going to be easy. 

So he tells us, and I have to say he tells me, to be serious about our prayer life. 

Why is a proper prayer life so important? I think the words Jesus said to Peter give us a hint. Our spirit wants to do it, but our flesh is weak. I get distracted. I get off track. Other things occupy my mind. Less spiritual things rush to the forefront  and my prayers get shoved to the back. And the next thing I know I am thinking about what we would do if an EMP bomb went off (I say that because I was praying yesterday morning while the power was out and that is where my mind ended up). 

So it is up to me to watch and pray with all seriousness. It is up to me to bring my thoughts into captivity to the thoughts of Christ. It is up to me to set my thoughts on things above. It is up to me to watch the invisible and not get distracted by the visible. 

I can’t do it alone. Of course I need God’s help. But I can be serious. I can be watchful. I can pray better than I am now.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

They think you are wierd

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. – 1 Peter 4.3-5

The last verse was about no longer living our lives in captivity to the flesh. Paul also wrote about the old life when we said that before salvation we all walked according to the course of the world because we were, by our very nature, children of wrath.

Peter here makes a pretty clear statement. We spent enough time in our past with a worldly lifestyle. Our lives were marked by lewdness and lusts and drunkenness and revelry and drunken parties and idolatries.

But no more, that should not be a part of our lives. Now our lives should be different.

And then he warns us, ‘people are not going to get it. They are going to think you are weird when you stop living like them. They may even start talking bad about you.’

I think we all know what this is like. We don’t even have to say anything and still be accused of being ‘holier than thou’ and thinking we are better than they are.

The truth is that we should not be surprised when our friends don’t get it. The person they once knew is not the person they know now. We aren’t the husband or wife or mom or dad or son or daughter or friend or neighbour or co-worker they once knew.

So rather than getting our backs up or acting ‘holier than thou’ we need to be patient and loving and kind in response. There is no need to be harsh or critical of them. Let them see the reality of the change Christ has worked so that they too may ‘be partakers of the grace of God.’ 

Friday, 6 March 2015

To follow God's will

that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4.2

From the very beginning of the word of God there have been two options – man’s way and God’s way. Eve had a choice to do her will, based on her own desires, or God’s will. Cain kept back the best of his crops to the Lord and Abel gave his best. Cain’s response was not to do right the next time, but to kill his brother. From that point on the Bible is the story of the battle between man’s lusts and God’s will.

We still face that problem today – even as believers.

Before we were saved we were bound by or flesh. We were captive to sin. But now we are free to follow God and our flesh has no power over us. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to free us from the chains that bound us so that we don’t have to give in to our lusts and desires.

We have the power to not live in the flesh trying to fill our desires. We have the power to live in the will of God.

Why don’t we do it?

We do it because folks tend to do what is important to them. It is not always true – but there is a lot of truth behind the old adage ‘you do what you want to do.’ We follow our flesh because we want to do that more than we want to follow God’s will. It suits our desires – and that is the rub.

I often am amazed at my proclivity to do wrong. Far too often I know what I should do and yet I choose the other. One would think that after decades of salvation I would have learned to do right – and yet I sin.

The convicting part of this is that I can’t blame anyone but me. No matter how wicked the world gets I still have the power of the Holy Spirit to do God’s way instead of my way. There is no excuse. My flesh is powerless – but the Holy Spirit within me is all powerful.

Thank God for this powerful reminder in my life today. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Armed with the mind of Christ

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, - 1 Peter 4.1

There are a couple of times where we are challenged to have have the mind of Christ. In Philippians Paul tells us to ‘let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Here Peter uses the idea as a way to arm ourselves for the spiritual battles we are going to be in. ‘Arm yourselves with the mind of Christ that was willing to suffer for us.’ 

The mind of Christ is an awesome power. The mind of Christ allowed Him to willingly go to the Christ. His death provided victory over death and victory for the Spirit of God. 

I am no theologian so I hope I don’t mess this up, but I think there is a real application for us. 

Jesus’ suffering and death was possible because He knew that those things were not in control. He knew that His victory would defeat them. He knew that this was the only way to defeat the power of death and sin for us. When we relate this to Romans 6 we see that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection destroyed the power of the flesh and the power of sin over us. 

When we arm ourselves with the mind of Christ we realise that this flesh has no real power over us. We don’t have to be afraid of what can happen to our bodies because we know our eternity is secure. Therefore we don’t have to be afraid. 

But I can’t leave the last line aside – ‘he who as suffered has ceased from sin.’ 

I think the  idea is that those who have died to the flesh, pictured by Jesus on the cross, are free from the power of sin in their lives. Sin has ceased to have control. That means that when I sin I am submitted to a defeated flesh even though it has no power. 

The key to living, and possibly suffering and dying, is to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ who willing submitted His flesh to the will of God and follow His example. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Christ also suffered

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, - 1 Peter 3.18-19

Peter says a lot about suffering. In fact a lot of the New Testament talks about suffering. I think the reason is because suffering is going to be the norm for the church. In the forty plus years since I was saved I have never once had to suffer for the cause of Christ. At the very worst I have mocked a little bit, or laughed at, or maybe called names – but all of that has happened to me from within the church as well.

But I have never really suffered for Christ. Not really. It’s not like so many of my fellow believers around the world who suffer greatly every day just because they call themselves ‘Christian.’ So I hesitate to say much – I don’t feel qualified.

But, the day may come when I will face it. And I need to be aware that, as this passage points out, Christ suffered for us. His suffering was unlike anything I might face. He was perfect and sinless. His suffering was a case of the ‘just for the unjust.’ I am a sinner. I live in sin cursed broken world. People treat each other badly here for all kinds of reasons.

Jesus did nothing wrong – and yet He suffered too. He suffered for me. He suffered to bring me to God and He suffered to defeat the flesh with the spirit. He suffered to give me spiritual life.

I don’t know if I will be called on to suffer – but it will never measure up to what the righteous Christ did for unrighteous me. So whatever comes my way may I always remember the voluntary suffering He went through for me. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Don't be afraid

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3.13-17

We live in what could easily be considered very, very scary days. There are growing threat to Christians and our way of life. Those fears may not be on our doorstep yet, but that doesn’t lessen the reality. 

In fact, it seems like most of the world lives in fear. We are all in the same boat. These fearsome times are the chance for us to shine. 

Lets see why. At first we see the question ‘who is going to harm you for doing good?’ So, for the most part, doing good is going to avoid trouble, That is the way most of us live today. 

But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes Christians are going to suffer for the cause of Christ. Sometimes doing right is not going to help, and that is a scary thought. But Peter says ‘don’t be afraid of their threats, suffering is a blessing.’ Instead of being afraid, when we come under threat, we ought to ‘sanctify God in our hearts.’ Instead of focusing on our fear we should focus on Christ and living for Him. 

What happens when the whole world is afraid but us is that we have a chance to make a difference. Then it is incumbent on us to be prepared to give an answer about why we have hope when no one else does. 

If we can manage that we are going to make anyone who is critical of us look foolish. Our critics have no ammo. 

It is indeed better to to do and suffer than to do wrong and get away with it. That preaches easy, but I’d say it is going to live hard. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Enjoying life through our actions

For “He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3.10-12

Keeping my mouth shut and controlling my tongue are important. It can make all the difference in the world.

But words are not enough – my life needs to match up with the words. My actions need to give substance to my speech.

And here are a few key things to live a life that I can love and to see good days.

Turn from evil
Do good
Seek peace and chase it down

The first two go hand in hand and so do the second two

We have a choice every day, probably many choices every day, to do good or do evil. It may not always seem like a big deal and the choice may sometimes seem minor, but we do have the choice to big good or evil.

This doesn’t seem like we should even have to talk about it. But we do because most of us I think do choose wrongly on occasion.

But I have found that whenever I choose evil over good I regret it. I may enjoy it for a moment, but I am always sorry later. It makes life miserable.

A lot of our problems would be solved by just avoiding evil and doing good.

And then we have ‘seek peace and pursue it.’ In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us ‘blessed are the peacemakers.’ In other places we read ‘as much as possible live at peace with all men.’ Hebrews tells us to ‘follow peace, with holiness.’

Now it is obvious that we can’t always have peace. We live in a broken world and violence is a part of it. But our desire should always be to seek out a peaceful solution. Christians should always be the peacemakers and reluctant to resort to violence.

I fear we live in a day when we have forgotten the importance of seeking peace. We may not always be able to find it, but are we peace makers and peace pursuers. I like that past part. It lets us know that we can't just kinda, sorta seek peace. We ought to pursue it, chase it, and track it down. 

When people think of us do they thing of peace, or violence?

Turn from evil
Do good

Seek peace

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Enjoying life through our words

For “He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3.10-12

Let he that would love life and see good days…

I think we all want that, don’t we? We all want a good life and we all want to see good days. It is true that life may get in the way – but there is something we can do to help love life and see good days. 

We can, first of all, learn how to control our speech. 

I know from my own experience that speech gets us into all kinds of trouble and really mess up ‘loving life and see good days.’ In fact that vast majority of times that I an not enjoying life it is because I have opened my big mouth. I hope I am getting better, but there was a time in my life when I almost prided myself in my caustic tongue and was glad of the fact that I could handle myself well in a battle of the tongues. 

But as I look back I have to say that there was never a time when situations were made better or my life was made happier or I had a really good day because I destroyed somebody with my tongue. 

Refrain your lips from evil and keep your tongue from being deceitful. 

In other words if you want to be happy learn to keep your big mouth shut. Use only words that edify and build up. 

That sounds good. But Peter could not have conceived of the internet. If he had he might have said. Keep your hands from typing evil words that hurt others. Think before you post. Don’t use the anonymity of the internet to post things that are deceitful or dishonest. Your reputation can be ruined on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. 

Last July I had to stop posting on a Christian discussion board. There was so much junk there that I had a hard time controlling my fingers on the keyboard. So I just quit. 

It shouldn't take that. We ought to be able to control our tongues and our fingers so that we honour God with them. 

Then we can love life and see good days because our hearts and words are right.