Thursday, 30 April 2009
God delivered Noah form the great day of His judgement in the flood. That is no surprise. That makes sense to us. In the entire world Noah was the man who was upright, he was the one who hated evil and feared God. Even to out human reasoning that is logical. We might even say, ‘Of course God saved Noah.’
Then we read. ‘God delivered righteous Lot.’ That’s a whole different story. Lot seems very much like the bad boy of Genesis. When offered a choice of land from his uncle he chose the best looking land. He set up his tents toward the wicked city of Sodom. He moved into this vile city and its lawless deeds. God sent messengers into the city and Lot insisted they come and stay in his house. During the night the men came to get the men and have sex with them. ‘Righteous” Lot offered his virgin daughters to the men. He just doesn’t seem like Mr Righteous.
And yet ‘God delivered righteous Lot.’ This same Lot ‘tormented his righteous soul’ every day by seeing all the wickedness going on around him. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.
The truth is that it is not up to me to decide. God, not Roger, knows how to deliver the godly in the day of judgement. I would never have chosen Lot as the righteous one. God is the only One who really knows the righteous from the unrighteous. I am grateful the knowledge of who to deliver is up to God and not me or any other man.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1v20-21
I can’t even imagine what it might be like to have a Bible that was filled with man’s own thoughts and opinions. Of what use would that possibly be? His opnions would be no better than mine.
But we don’t have to worry about that. Knowing this as a primary truth, God’s word does not originate in any man’s interpretation of the truth. It is not subject to man’s opinions or bias. Instead holy men of God wrote only as they were moved by His Holy Spirit to do so. God breathed His word into them so that what we have to day we can know is from Him.
The Bible is not man’s will. The church did not give us the Bible, but vice versa, the Bible gives us the reason and meaning of the church. Praise God that we are not dependent on mere mortals, but on God’s Holy Spirit.
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Peter recounts for us here the occasion on the Mount of Transfiguration where he actually saw the majesty of God and heard His voice say, ‘This is my beloved Son,. In Whom I am well pleased.’ This was a privilege almost beyond belief. To be permitted to see the interaction between Father and Son must have been amazing.
After describing the event briefly Peter goes on to relate it to his readers. The rest of the context makes it clear that the context is the word of God. Here Peter writes, ‘We have the prophetic word confirmed.’ The KJV has ‘we have a more sure word of prophecy.’ Either way, it is clear that the word of God is superior to even hearing God’s voice. It only makes sense really, because memories fade, but the written word is always there.
What do we do with that light? We pay attention to it. We heed it. It is the only real light in a world that is stuck in darkness. There is no ‘inner spark of light’ in man that offers illumination. The word of God is the only source of light in this present world. God’s word is a lamp for our feet and a light to guide our path. It will guide us through the darkness of this life.
How long do we pay heed to the light of His word? Until the day dawns and Jesus, the bright and morning star rises in our hearts and lives. One day Christ will return and the true Light will be restored. One day darkness will once and for all be defeated. The great and glorious day of His appearing will be here. There will be no moe darkness to dim our paths.
Until then, let us pay heed to the light he has given us in His glorious word!
Monday, 27 April 2009
I appreciate Peter’s attitude here. He knew his death was coming. He knew that shortly his must put off his tent, his earthly body, and yet he still knew there was work he had to do.
Two things stick out to me here. First, I love the picture of our body being a tent. It reminds us that this body is only transitory. He gets the focus off of our own creature comforts and on the fact this is all only a temporary. Tents are never meant to be permanent dwellings. The early church, as evidenced by both Peter and Paul, saw there bodies in that light. We are pilgrims, travellers, aliens, and transients pitching our tents for just a short time. In a sense we are on an earthly camping trip. We need to keep that in mind as we pass through our lives on earth.
Secondly, note Peter’s attitude. He wasn’t too concerned about packing up his tent. After all, packing up your tent means you are going home, headed to your bed and your comfortable couch and your nice hot shower! No, that didn’t concern Peter. What concerned him was the task of reminding those around him of the truths they would need after he was gone. Although none of us hold he special office of apostle, Peter’s attitude reminds that our lives are to expended for others, not ourselves. Instead of focusing on our own woes we need to make sure that we are looking for ways to be a blessing to others.
Don’t worry about the camping trip coming to a close, focus on being a blessing to your fellow campers.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Today’s verses tie into those we looked at yesterday so it is important that we see the whole package put together.
None of us like to be ‘barren or unfruitful’ in our Christian lives. If we are not diligently adding knowledge of Chris and His word, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love we are failing miserably. We are so short-sighted that we may be considered blind. It can be so bad that we can even forget that we have been cleansed from our sin. In other words, if we are not adding these attributes to our lives we become totally ineffectual in our service for the Lord.
On the other hand if we are adding these traits we will find ourselves no longer barren or unfruitful. It is easy to see why when we look back over the list. Faith is foundational, without it nothing else is going to happen. Growing in knowledge of Christ and His word allows us to have direction and share the truths with others. If we don’t have self-control we will destroy our testimony. If we don’t persevere we will never reap the fruits of our efforts. Without godliness no one will ever see our difference from the rest of the world. When there is no brotherly kindness we turn people away with our mean spirit. Above all else, remember, love one another. It is only by love that people will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.
There is nothing wrong with praying and asking for God to allow us to bear fruit, but let us not forget that we have a role to play as well.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
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 1v5-7
If we did not do something with our faith it would just sort of sit there and stagnate. Faith by itself is amazing and incomprehensible. And yet there is so much more. We don’t get the ‘more’ by some kind of osmosis – it takes work.
In fact, it requires diligent work. Not just a laid back, lazy, half-hearted work, but diligent work. It is not something that we can let happen, we have to do it. And what do we have to add?
To our faith we add virtue.
To faith and virtue we add knowledge
To faith, virtue, and knowledge we add self-control
To faith, virtue, knowledge, and self-control we add perseverance
To faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control and perseverance we add godliness
To faith, virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance and godliness we add brotherly kindness.
To faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness we add love.
It is like constructing a marvellous building storey after storey. The foundation of it all is faith. The rest of the building blocks are added. This order itself is a fascinating study in itself, for another place and time. But the peak of the building, the penthouse if you will, is love.
Love is the ‘above all’ of our faith building. Love is the consummation of it all. I think it is interesting that love comes at the top. If indeed there is an order here love is the ultimate mark of maturity.
When you think about, what is the mark of Christ’s followers? ‘They will know you are my followers by the love you have for each other.’
Love is the pinnacle. How are we doing in our own ‘adding?’
Friday, 24 April 2009
We come across another one of those ‘how can this be possible’ passages. God has given us ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ itself would be an amazing and incomprehensible truth. Why would God give us ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ to start with? He is God after all, and we are, well, us. I know that I don’t deserve any kind of promise from Him, much less exceeding and precious ones.
It is the next phrase that really gets me though. Peter writes that we may be ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ This reminds me of the passage in Hebrews that talks about being ‘partakers of His holiness.’ How do we partake, or share, or partner with God divine nature? What allows us to have anything at all to do with His holiness? How can sinful man share in a perfect God’s nature?
I think the only answer is that we become partakers of His nature when we become His children. Before that time there is nothing good is us, nothing that merits His favour. The practical application of this is tough, and something that I think we all need to examine. If we are indeed partakers of His nature, does that not suggest that we should behave as though we have that nature? Our lives should reflect His. Our behaviour should indicate that we are His children.
What is the blessing of that diving nature? We have already escaped the corruption that the world deals with that is caused by fleshly lusts. We are reminded yet again that the corruption of this world has no real power over us. When we give in to worldly lusts and live in its corruption it is simply because we choose to, because at that moment we would rather live in the corruption than in the divine nature.
We are blessed exceedingly with the blessing of being permitted to share in His divine nature. Are we willing to live like we share in His nature?
Thursday, 23 April 2009
I love this truth. It leaves no room for two levels of faith. It eliminates the idea of a higher plane faith.
All of us have a ‘like precious faith.’ That is, all of us have faith of equal value. The reason for this is that our faith is not based on our own work or our own righteousness, but it was given to us based on the righteousness of Jesus, our God and Saviour.
In that righteousness comes all we need for godly living. His divine power gives us all we need for daily life and for godly living. The right daily life and godly come through knowing Him better. He has called all of us in accordance with His glory and His virtue.
Sometimes it is tempting to compare ourselves to others and think that we are in some way better then them because they do things we don’t think Christians should do, or they don’t do things that we think Christians should. We tend to base ‘righteousness’ on our own preferences.
And yet there it is. We all have a ‘like precious faith.’ I am in no way excusing sin or unbiblical behaviour, but let’s be careful that we don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that our faith is any more or less precious than anyone else – it is all His righteousness.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Doesn’t it seem sometimes that it is never going to end? The pain and pressure can get to the point where it just seems to be more than we can bear.
Peter knows the reality of this. He knows that his fellow Christians are going to experience pain and suffering. He knows that the Christian life is never going to be a bed of roses.
So he reminds us here that there is a God of all grace Who is there with us during these times. We are reminded that our suffering is for a little while in the eternal scheme of things and that we will one day get through it. When that day comes we can be assured that He will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us once and for all.
Whatever is going on isn’t forever. Hold on, better days are coming.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
I don’t like cats. I especially don’t like cats that are big, ferocious, wild animals. I really don’t like them being on the prowl, and hungry. I can’t imagine being in a place where wild lions are walking around stalking me looking for their dinner. I would be constantly on guard. I would not be distracted, I would be vigilant, and I would do all I could to resist him.
The truth is, though we may not see him, we do have a roaring lion stalking the earth looking to devour us. We don’t like to talk about him much in our enlightened age, but the devil is still there and still looking for his chance to attack us. We can get lulled into a false sense of security if we are not careful and then we let down our vigilance. Sometimes we get so complacent that we walk right into his den and take a little nap. When we do we open ourselves open to his vicious attacks. Sadly, some have been devoured by him and had their spiritual lives ruined.
We need to spend every waking moment on guard and vigilant against his attacks. We must arm ourselves with the powerful sword of God’s word. We must be always awake, always at the ready, always on guard, and always vigilant so that we are not devoured by his attacks.
Monday, 20 April 2009
Why is it that we tend to be care carriers instead of care casters? We seem bound and determined to carry our own cares, even when God tells us to be ‘careful’ for nothing. Literally, we are not to be full of cares, but we let ourselves get overwhelmed by them. Care carrying seems to be a full time profession.
That is somewhat sad when we consider that we have the perfect care carrier who has offered to carry the load for us. ‘Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ Jesus said. There is no one who cares more for us than Jesus. We all know that, but why do we have such a problem practicing it?
I think the problem is that we often think that we are the ones who can do the best job of carrying our cares. Our pride makes us think that we can do a better job of dealing with the things that we are concerned about.
Jesus already cares for us. Why are we so determined to share the care load with Him?
Sunday, 19 April 2009
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." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, - 1 Peter 5v5-6
‘Young people, submit yourselves to your elders – in fact everyone submit to each other.’
This is the key to what follows – ‘Clothe yourselves with humility.’ Following that is the reason for this mindset – ‘because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. He will exalt you in due time.’
For a non-believer reading the Bible it would almost seem like the Bible really takes this humility thing too far. Over and over and over again it tells us to submit to each other and exercise humility. The whole thing seems contrary to other religions. How can a ‘religion’ that stresses humility hope to survive the competition?
We cannot deny that our faith is one of paradoxes. Here we are reminded, once again, of the importance of humility as the way to success. Peter makes it very plain – ‘all of you submit to each.’ This is only going to happen if our whole demeanour and appearance is one of humility, hence the instruction to dress that way.
When we do this we experience the seeming contradiction. God honours the humble and He resists the proud. If we are willing to humble ourselves we can trust that He will exalt us at the right time.
To simplify it with a parrowphrase – ‘Put on clothes of humility and submit to each other. God will honour it. Leave the results up to Him.’
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Today’s message is one primarily for me and other pastors or elders in the church. Here Paul has a special message for us.
Someone has to lead. Whenever there is a group of people there is either a leader present or someone is going to take that position. In the local church God uses the pastors or elders to fulfil that role.
The question then becomes, ‘how do we lead?’ Peter gives us some basic clues here: Shepherd the flock – Psalm 23 comes to mind here. Serve as an overseer – interesting, watch over the flock, but do it as a servant. Don’t do it because you have been pressured into doing it – do it willingly. Don’t do it for the money, but eagerly no matter what the money is.
All great pointers that I hate to pass over so quickly, but one grabbed by heart this morning – not as lord over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
The position of pastor is not one of master and lord. I have seen far too many pastor/lords in my lifetime. They lead, by whip if necessary, and the flock follows. Tragic thing is that is not good for the sheep.
So how do pastors and elders lead? By example – simple enough. Our lives must be a shining example down the right paths that the people entrusted to us can follow safely, not fearing our rod, but trusting our leadership.
Friday, 17 April 2009
I have to admit to start with that it does feel that there is a change in the wind for believers. New laws and restrictions give every indication that we may be seeing some major changes to the political freedoms and liberties that we have grown accustomed to in so many parts of the world.
A lot of Christians are asking questions? ‘Has God withdrawn His blessing?’ ‘What are we doing wrong?’ ‘What can we do to reverse this?’ We seem to think that a hard time for Christians is unusual and outside of he norm.
Of course this is not true for all believers. Our brothers and sisters in many parts of the world know nothing about Christians having a ‘most favoured people’ status. They know the reality of what Peter is writing – ‘Don’t think it strange concerning the fiery trials you are going through as though something strange has happened to you.’ Hard times for God’s children should not take us by surprise – this is the reality. As such it gives us opportunity to take part in the suffering that Christ went through for us.
Like it or not this is the norm. This is reality. It has been reality for most our history and it is the reality for many Christians today.
So why do we think it is something weird?
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Several years ago we had an experience that really illustrates this passage. We were teaching in a Christian school and active in the ‘ministry’ at our local church. We had a friend who went to church with us and who had children in the school where we taught. He was a home appliance repairman and since we phoned him when our appliances gave us trouble. Eventually he started doing all the work and only charging us for the parts. Fair enough, that can be part of how Christians help each other. When things got really tight at the school and our pay cheques were cut he began doing any work we needed for free, even paying for the parts. We started to feel bad about it, so I started trying to do the repairs myself. To make a long story short, I broke the tumble drier so badly had to ring this friend. He asked why we did not phone him, and when I tried to explain he made a statement that has always stuck with me. “I can’t preach or teach, and I can’t work with children like you do, but I can fix appliances. Don’t rob me of God’s blessings.
This is what Peter is talking about here. He has given each of us gifts that manifest themselves as skills, abilities, and talents. There are ways that I cannot minister. There are ways that I minister that others can’t. That is part of what makes the body of Christ so important. We all have the opportunity to minster to each other in various capacities. It is a blessing that we have our own gifts. Every gift, whether it is hospitality, administration, music, teaching, preaching, encouraging, working with children, or fixing driers is important.
Figure out your gift. Don’t try to compete (like I did fixing the drier). Minister through your gift and enjoy the blessings of letting others use theirs as together we steward the manifold gifts of God.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Yesterday was one of ‘those’ days. It was a madhouse around here. We had about twenty different people here throughout the day. Even for our house it was a busy and hectic day.
Now I know yesterday was unusual, but as I read this passage in connection with yesterday I was reminded of a thought that runs throughout the Bible. God expects us to be open and hospitable in our lives. I think of the Shunamite woman who opened her home to Elisha and the many cases in the New Testament where we are commanded to be hospitable to others.
Today’s verse adds a condition – do it without grumbling. Have you ever been around someone who you knew was only being nice because they ‘had to’? Not much fun is it? You would rather they would not bother.
Like everything else this is a heart issue. Heartless hospitality is really no hospitality at all. Heartfelt hospitality is obvious, so is heartless hospitality. It is not enough to just open our doors; we must also open our arms and our hearts.
Lets be sure that our hospitality is more than just a ‘Hi, oh its you, come in!’
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
‘Above all things’ is quite a statement. After all these instructions about obedience, humility, and submission Peter write – ‘now, above everything else, have a fervent, dedicated, unshakeable love for each other.’
Once again love rises to the top. Jesus said the same thing when he summarised all the law with “Love God and love your neighbour.’ There is a lot in Christian living. Submission, humility, and things like that are important; vital even. But the glue that holds it all together is love for each other, and not just love, but a fervent, vital, unceasing love.
‘Love will cover a multitude of sin.’ That doesn’t say that love will excuse sins or make light of them, but that love will cover offences caused by sins. Love covers the flaws and imperfections that are a part of what causes offences. We choose to love despite the sin.
Love will motivate us to strive to help a brother out of his, but fervent love lets me keep loving during the process.
Monday, 13 April 2009
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, 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. 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. - 1 Peter 4v1-4
I like how Peter makes an application of what he has been teaching. Because of all that has been said. We are to ‘arm ourselves with the same mind’ as Christ. This of course is reminiscent of Paul’s injunction to ‘let his mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’
The mind of Christ charges us to live in a different manner. We are no longer to live our lives pursuing the lusts of men, but like Christ, who suffered for us, we are now to live in such a way that we are constantly desiring to do the will of God. We now longer go after all the stuff that we used to. Paul tells us in Romans that with the same intensity that we used to go after lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, and such we are now to pursue the will of God.
The mind that we are to arm ourselves with is the mind that will do anything and go through anything to follow the will of God. We have spent enough time doing the other, now lets give it all to doing His will.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
The context is joy and blessedness in suffering. As hard as that is to grasp, we now see the reason for it.
In the midst of what we consider heard times we are to place God in the centre of our hearts and minds. He must replace the fear and despair in our focus. When persecution and suffering for doing right comes it gives us a perfect opportunity. If we can stay at peace and the suffering as blessing it gives us the chance to give a reason for our joy. It allows us to tell others why we have hope.
As strange as it sounds, we should relish the bad times. It is then when we stand out from the crowd. It is then when we have the opportunity to show that all we have said has merit - that we REALLY believe what we have been saying! Then we get to tell others why we have such hope!
Let’s make sure that when bad times loom we are ready to give the answer for how we can rejoice.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
We all love it when things are going well. We equate loving life and good days with worldly success and lack of trouble. We think that God is ‘really blessing’ life is easy and smooth. That phrase almost rolls off our lips without thought when something really good happens in our lives and ministries.
But how often do we hear “God is really blessing’ when we are suffering? How often do Christians thank God for His blessings when everything is going against them? God is blessing when we fit into society and life is easy, but is He really blessing when our culture becomes ungodly and we suffer for doing what is right?
My thoughts are drawn to the situation in America. Twenty-five years ago everything was going our way. We had a president who stood for what was right. He sought and took counsel from born again believers. The Moral Majority was a major player in society. Everything was going our way. A truly Christian America was just around the corner.
Now things are different. Conservative Christianity no longer has a friend in the White House. Freedoms are being eroded. Ungodliness is not only allowed but advocated. Christians are seeing their most privileged status eroded.
So, was God blessing American Christians then, but not now? Has God withdrawn His blessings?
According the Peter God’s blessing is not measured by our circumstances. We are blessed when we suffer for doing right. To my human mind that makes absolutely no sense. How can God be blessing when everything is going wrong?
I don’t get it, but that doesn’t mean its not true. There is blessing in suffering for doing right – I just need to see it.
Friday, 10 April 2009
“Have a good day’ is one of those sayings that we almost repeat without thinking. It is interesting that the word of God actually tells us how to have good days.
You want to love life? You want to have good days? Here’s what you do:
Watch what you say about people
Hate evil and do good
Seek peace, in fact, pursue it
If there were a ‘good day ticklist’ this would be well suited for the role. I know that we are called to live godly lives and that there is more to this, but I think this is a great place to start.
If I keep my tongue from all evil, if I refuse to speak those venomous words, if I put off evil and do good, and if I chase after peace chances are I will have a good day, at least in my own heart! When I do that, my day is good no matter what the circumstances.
Have a good day! Its really up to you!
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Sometimes I wonder where true Christian conduct has gone. As I watch how believers discuss and debate I am seeing a meanness and an ugliness that I find disconcerting. Discussions of issues seem to quickly degenerate into personal attacks and divisions.
What does God say about our conduct toward each other?
Be of one mind
Have compassion for each other
Love like brothers
We are not always going to agree on all issues. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about them. But when we do talk about them these are our guidelines. We must be like minded in our search for the truth and our desire to glorify God. We must remember to show compassion to each other. Our love as brethren must override our own agendas. There must be a tenderness that replaces meanness. And there must be common courteously.
What happens when the other guy doesn’t play fair? What happens when he gets vicious and mean in his attacks? What happens when he turns a courteous discussion into an evil attack? What happens when he rails against me personally?
Well, I can’t let him get away with that, can I? If he is going to start the fight then I am going to finish it, right? Wrong. Instead of responding with evil and railings of my own I am to respond with blessing. I am not responsible for my brother’s action, but I am responsible for my response.
Blessing replaces reviling. This is our calling, and we can be assured that our reward is God’s blessing.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
I think this is one of the best descriptions of a Christian home – ‘heirs together of the grace of life.’
God’s plan is for the Christian home to be a place where the couple grow old together surrounded by the grace of God. This is only possible where the wife submits to the husband and the husband honours his wife as a precious vessel.
I have been in services where the preacher thought it cute to publically poke fun at his wife. No matter how it is covered this is mockery and belittlement of the one that he is supposed to honour.
We have a couple of pieces of Waterford Crystal. Our son gave us a beautiful pair of candlesticks for our anniversary one year. This as precious to us, not just because there are beautiful cut crustal, but because they are a gift. We take good care of them; they are permanently displayed on the mantle above the fireplace. We would not grab them for a common purpose.
Our wives are to be treated as our own most special possession. We must honour them as the most precious of vessels. Our treatment of our wives must be different from the way we treat anyone else.
Once we learn that we can enjoy the blessings of being heirs together of God’s walk of grace in this life.
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
‘They say time takes its toll on a body. Makes a young girl’s brown hair turn gray. Honey I don't care I’m not in love with your hair, and if it all fell out well I'd love you anyway’
These words from Randy Travis’ song ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ illustrate the difference Peter talks about between inner an outer beauty. Millions (billions?) are spent every year in a quest for eternal beauty. Women (and men) pay for nips, tucks, stretches, creams, potions, injections, operations, and treatments in a desire to maintain their youthful good looks. Well, some people do, one must first have youthful good looks before they can keep them.
No matter what, those outward good looks are going to fade eventually. Wrinkles are going to set in. Hair is going to turn gray or turn loose. Youthful beauty does fade away.
Peter here speaks of an inner beauty that is incorruptible. Speaking to women primarily, but to all of us in general, he writes of the beauty of a ‘quiet and gentle spirit.’ This beauty is ‘very precious in the sight of God.’
Some of the most beautiful people I have ever met will never grace the cover of a fashion magazine or walk on the red carpet in Hollywood. Nevertheless there is a stunning beauty about their quiet and gentle spirit that cannot help but attract us.
What would happen if all of us, not just women, spent as much time on our incorruptible inner beauty as we do on our outer fading beauty?
Monday, 6 April 2009
Jesus’ focus was not on getting back at those who caused Him problems and attacked Him. He had one goal in mind – to go to the cross and bear our sins there.
As we enter into what is commonly referred to as ‘Holy Week’ (though this week is not more holy than any other) we do well to reflect on the cross and the implications of it.
Good Friday (I am not going to fight over what day of the week Jesus died) is more than just another day on the calendar. It is the day we have chosen to remember that Jesus Himself bore our sins on that cross that through His stripes we can be healed from our sins.
We can pay lip service to the cross. We can sing about the cross. We can blog about the cross. All of that is great, but the true way to show the value of the cross is that we live for righteousness every day.
Our righteous living should be our response to the cross. His death was all that could make us righteous. Let’s live in that righteousness instead of in the flesh.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
I enjoyed the little book ‘In His Steps.’ I like the helpful question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ that is based on that book. I often think those thoughts when confronted with a situation.
However good the thought is, that is not the proper context for the phrase. The context is response to abuse and persecution. Jesus was perfect, sinless, and faultless. Any yet, He was reviled; He suffered, and was threatened. While He had all the power in the universe in His hands he did not revile in response, but suffered. He did not threaten in response – but He committed Himself to the perfect Judge.
This is the setting for, ‘What would Jesus do?’ What would Jesus do when attacked, reviled and threatened? What would Jesus do in response to suffering?
We don’t have to ask those questions. We know the answer. He simply committed it to the God because He is the one who is able to sort it all out.
Can we get to the point where we can do that? Can we follow His example? Can we do what Jesus would do? Can we commit it to the One who judges righteously? Are we even willing to try?
Saturday, 4 April 2009
We seem to have somehow adopted the idea that the world and all those in authority over us should change their points of view to accept us for who were are. We now seem to think that our lives and our stand for Christ are going to be accepted even if our faith makes them uncomfortable. We seem to think that we have some mysterious right to acceptance.
This passage is a difficult one to read and I feel like I must be missing something, but there it is – pretty clearly stated. Servants are to submit to their masters, even if they are harsh masters. That seems like a ‘roll over and play dead’ attitude. From the context it obvious that we are not to bring trouble on ourselves, but if we suffer because of our walk with the Lord it is a good thing.
Even then the principle of submission is laid out before us. Submit, even to a cruel master.
I am going to have to give this one some more consideration.
Friday, 3 April 2009
I am deeply concerned about a tendency among Christians to feel compelled to be fighters and attackers. I have seen so much dishonouring other people, condemning the brotherhood, and dishonouring of leaders that it now seems to be somewhat commonplace.
I just want to focus on the last point today. When Peter wrote this letter Nero was the Emperor in Rome. Nero is not historically known as a friend of Christians and his policies would rival Hitler for cruelty and barbarity. Nothing about him would have suited believers. Many were killed in his reign. He was not a nice guy, and yet Peter writes, ‘honour the king.’
The word of God makes it clear that there is a general principle of submission to authority. We are called to submit in three basic spheres of human authority; the home, the state, and the church (in order of their establishment). All of these fall under the sphere of God’s authority.
Submission and honouring are two different things. There may come a time when it is impossible for me to submit to and obey human authority. This only happens when their commands come in direct opposition to God’s authority. When that happens I must choose to obey God instead of man.
What should my attitude be when that happens? I think the example of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are wise for us to examine. When commanded to bow down to the image of the king they could not do it. They simply stood. They did not protest, they did not picket, they did not try to shout down the trumpet. When arrested and taken to the authorities they showed total respect. In essence they said to the king, ‘We simply cannot obey this law. God will deliver us, and even if He doesn’t we still cannot serve your gods.’ The showed no disrespect and they did not question the king’s power to punish them. They honoured him and his position.
Why? They honoured him because they knew they could trust God no matter what happened. They knew their fate was not dependent on the king. Their fate was dependent on their Lord.
In a free society we have every right to speak up against unjust policies. We must speak up against clearly ungodly laws. We need not roll over and play dead. We can even work for the political defeat of elected leaders. But we must never find ourselves dishonouring the king.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Praise God for our liberty in Christ! I am free from both sin and the law! What a relief to have those restrictions gone! Does that mean I can do whatever I want? Great!
Well, not quite. Though we have that liberty from sin and the law, it does not mean we can just do whatever we want. Peter clarifies this when we writes – ‘don’t use your liberty as a cloak or a cover for your vices and sin, use your liberty to serve God instead of sin and the law.
Liberty and bond service don’t seem like they go together, do they? How can one be a ‘free slave?’ I think the ‘voluntary servitude’ fills the bill. Because Christ has freed us we have the blessed chance now to serve Him? Why? Because there is no better master to be had. He is loving, just, compassionate, and caring. This Master cared so much for me that He gave His life for me. Why would I not want to serve Him instead of my old masters?
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
I don’t understand this whole idea of Christians who do not submit to the governing authorities. Submission is a key mark of humility and humility is, of course, a key character trait for God’s people. Submission begins at a young age and continues on through adulthood. If we cannot submit to human authorities that we can see can we really hope to submit to God who we cannot see?
The reason for submission here is different. Here we are called on to submit so that we can put to silence the criticisms of foolish men who will attack us for our difference from the rest of the world. We can’t afford to give those foolish men fuel for the fire. There may come a time when we have to decide to obey God when the governing authorities are in direct violation of God’s word. Outside of that our best method for silencing our critics is to lead a good and peaceable life where we live so that they have no room for their foolish attacks.