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Entries in 1 Peter (7)

Tuesday
Aug082017

I am an alien

Processing 1 Peter 2:11-12

Immigration, aliens, assimilation, integration....  All are hot topics these days.  Thanks to all political and Facebook posts, I see and hear the word "alien" a lot.  And, each time I see or hear it, I think it a strange word to describe people.  When I think of an alien, ET comes to mind.  Thus, the silly Snapchat picture.

As I read what Peter writes to those of us who call ourselves Christ followers, the passages hit me in an entirely new and fresh way.  First, Peter calls us Beloved.  Next, he says we are aliens and strangers.  Attention:  I am a beloved alien!  My eyes locked in on these words and I couldn't go further. I had to hit the pause and ponder button.  I've been processing these words and their impact all week.

As far as my US citizenship, I am not an alien. When I hear this word on the news, I don't identify.  So, when I read Peter's words, I had to adjust my thinking.  He reminded me that I am an alien and a stranger here in this world.  As I paused, the Spirit brought these Scriptures to mind.  

  • "For He (Jesus) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son..."  Colossians 1:13
  • "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..."  Philippians 3:20
  • "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household..." Ephesians 2:19

America is my physical home, and as a citizen, I pledge allegiance to my country.  But on a spiritual level, I've been transferred from the kingdom of darkness (the world ruled by the devil) and into the kingdom of heaven where Jesus is my King and my Lord.  Because of Him, I am now a citizen of the household of God.  I love the good ole USA, but it's a kingdom of the world and not all US citizens are citizens of heaven.  So, it is true...

I am an alien.

As an alien, I should look and act very different from citizens of the world.  Okay, so the silly Snapchat picture is taking it a bit too far.  But, listen to what Peter says:

  • "Beloved, I urge you, as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the things in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."  1 Peter 2:11-12

I am a good kind of alien!  Because I am here to do good and my behavior to be excellent.  Peter pretty much takes the rest of the book to explain how as an alien I am to act and what I am to do while here.  If I get it right, the citizens of earth may glorify God when He comes.  It, this alien behavior, will also ensure I don't blend in.  I should look and act like the alien I am.  I imagine some will run for the hills and others will welcome me with open arms, eager to learn about the kingdom of heaven.  Either way, I'm left here with a beautiful purpose to fulfill and mission to accomplish. Until I am beamed up (so to speak). 

I am fairly confident that in many ways, I've tried to blend in.  Oh Lord, take Your word and do your work so that my behavior will be excellent and You will be glorified.

I can't wait to continue my study of alien behavior.  Hint, hint...the very first word of the next verse is SUBMIT.  

Friday
Aug042017

Received mercy & lavished in grace

Processing 1 Peter 2:9-10

Earlier this summer, my husband and several dear friends all went to Alaska.  Being in big, bold and beautiful Alaska was like one long worship service.  It was 360 degrees of God's majesty.  Each new sight would bring a flood of Scriptures to my mind and lyrics to a worship song to my lips.  It was incredible.  One of the things that boggled my mind was how the great flood described in Genesis shaped the terrain and that all I was seeing was as a result of God's wrath.  Yet there were stood in the midst of such beauty.  Oh, what a breathtaking visual of redemption - of mercy and grace. Mind boggling!

So yeah, I was awestruck at the majesty of Alaska - His majesty.  I know He was right there with my friends and me.  My goodness, He was everywhere you looked.  But on one particular day, while walking a rocky beach, I just wanted a personal minute with my Lord.  In that brief moment, it was like I transitioned from talking to the Creator, the Almighty, and All Powerful God and started talking to my Father God as His beloved child 1 Peter; Romans 8:25).

While walking on that rocky beach, I asked my Father to help me find a heart shaped rock.  

What? Hadn't He shown me enough?  Why with all that was surrounding me did I ask for more and something special?  Did He need to help me find a heart shaped rock to remind me that I am His beloved?  No.  I have His word recorded and preserved for me, and I hide those words in my heart.  No, I don't need a heart shaped rock ... I have THE rock - Jesus.  

So, why ask? 

I suppose there are lots of reasons but let me share just two of them.  First, He is God and if there was a heart shaped rock on that beach He could help me find it!  Second, because He is God, He knew already I was going to ask Him to help me find a heart shaped rock which means He could have placed one there so I could find it!

I hesitated to share this experience because if you ask for a heart shaped rock and don't get it you might feel less loved or heard or beloved.  So, let me be clear on something. I have prayed and asked and begged for certain situations and circumstances for years and God has said, "No."  He could, but He hasn't and in some cases won't ever.  But, I keep asking and seeking His will. I have learned and am learning to accept those definite "No" answers as for my good and His glory.  I continue to ask for silly things like a heart shaped rock all the time and rarely does He answer me.  But, I keep asking because I know He can and He might, and when He does, I thank Him, praise Him and squeal with delight.  I sure wouldn't want to miss it if a "yes" was there waiting for me and all I had to do was ask.  I wonder how many of those I have missed because I felt silly, weary, frustrated and so on?

I have come to know and keep getting to know my Father through His word.  I want to experience His presence and power in my life as His word tells me I am meant to experience my life in Christ.  So, I stay in His word.  It's not always easy.  But, I keep looking for Him in the big and small things.  I keep seeking Him in the exciting and the mundane moments of my life.  His word tells me that He's ordained each of my days, created good works for me to do for Him, His very own possession ... I am His beloved.  In Jesus, you are His beloved too.  

Why not ask the God of the impossible to move in both small and serious ways - in my life and in your life? These requests are not meant to feed our emotions but rather feed our faith as we experience the power of God at work in, through and around us.  I don't want to stop at heart shaped rocks.  I long to see the sick healed, the dead raised, 3,000 saved in one day...

Maybe God showed me that heart shaped rock on that beach in Alaska so I could encourage you in your personal relationship with the Lord.  

Don't let the "no" answers from God keep you from asking, praying, hoping...  If you have accepted the Beloved - Jesus, you have received mercy dear friend.  In Christ, God has and continues to lavish His grace upon you.  Count and recite them to your own heart.  He loves you.  You are His beloved.  He esteems and finds joy in you.  

Now, go esteem and find joy in Him.  Ask, wait, look, expect...  

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21) 

 

Tuesday
Aug012017

Entry #10 - Talk, talk, talk...

Processing 1 Peter 2:9-10.

It looks like to me that a lot of people get paid tons of money to sit behind a camera and give their commentary on a variety of subjects.  Can you imagine being paid money to talk, talk, talk and share your opinion?  I can't even.  

In fact, most of the time I am pretty sure those around me are not interested in my opinions and that I should just keep them to myself.  I think I finally realize that if people aren't asking me for my opinions, then well....they aren't asking for my opinions! Zip it on the opinions, Sally.  

I know I should zip it, but it's so hard because the spiritual mother in me wants to coach, guide, mentor, encourage, share hard earned wisdom, teach, impart and so on.  I want to spiritually mother the precious people around me.  I mean I've learned so much and most of it the hard way.  I have some wisdom and knowledge that might be helpful.  

These are the desires God has put in my heart and how He's wired me.  It's how I love to invest my time and what I love doing.  But, I find my gifts and abilities are not in high demand these days.  I don't have folks lined up asking for my knowledge and wisdom (a/k/a opinions)!  You know?

So, what do I do with all these desires, abilities and life experiences? What's my responsibility to those around me who may or may not be interested in what I have to say? And, what does any of this have to do with 1 Peter 2:9-10?  Hang with me a minute as I process with my fingers.

A week ago:

Our pastor is doing a sermon series at church entitled My People.  A week ago, he was teaching out of Acts 2 where it talks about how God's people were continually devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, eating meals together, prayer shared everything in common and that God was adding to their numbers daily those being saved.  #wow.  God was using what He was doing in their lives to draw others to Himself.  People saw what God was doing among His people, and they wanted to be part of that.  

Then, our pastor asked a really great application question that I have been pondering about ever since. The question went something like this:

What's God doing in your life today that draws others to want what you have with Christ?

My pastor went on to imply that perhaps we don't have as great of an impact in the lives of those around us because we aren't allowing God to impact our lives in a great way on a daily basis.  #ouch.

Our pastor talks a lot about active faith.  So, his question spurred a series of questions for me to ponder before the Lord all week.  Questions like:

  • How active is my faith?
  • What am I trusting in God for today?
  • What is God doing in my life and heart right now?
  • What do people see about God and my faith in Jesus when they look at my life?
  • Is my relationship with Christ so dynamic that others are drawn to Christ or drawn to ask questions about Christ?  

These questions have moved me to think more intentionally each day about my active faith.  Every day to seek Him in His word and expect to hear Him talking to me.  To ensure His voice is louder than all those giving commentaries about all the things going on around me.  To be intentional every day to seek and discover something new about Him and His ways or at least a deeper understanding.  Since His mercies are new every day, then look for them and then discover each mercy by name.  To look harder, eagerly expect and long for more of Him each day and when my head hits the pillow at night recount His wonders one by one for that day with praise on my lips.  

Sure, I know it's what I should do and try to do but am I always so focused and intentional about it?  No.

Being this focused and intentional makes me more aware of God's presence in my life and His presence moves me to be excited about sharing all God is doing in my life.  But this takes me back to where the blog post started.  Who wants to hear what I have to say?  

This week:

As I was writing out 1 Peter 2:9-10, my heart was encouraged.  I love these familiar verses.  I never grow tired of reading them because they are so amazing.  But reading them with these thoughts in mind is a word for TODAY!

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are a people of God; you had not received mercy buy not you have received mercy."

Aren't these the most beautiful and amazing truths?  They give me and you such purpose for our lives.  I am, and you are to proclaim His excellencies.

Reality check this week: There is a big difference between sharing my opinions versus sharing what God's doing in my life. 

Bottom line:  It doesn't matter who is or is not listening.  I just need to keep proclaiming and sharing what my merciful God is doing in my life - each and every day.  My responsibility is to proclaim.  Who listens isn't to be my focus.  And, here is how God make this point very clear to me this week!

This past Sunday one of the other pastors took us to Luke 8:27-40.  So, as I read 1 Peter 2:9-10, this story was so fresh on my mind.  The story is about the man possessed by many demons that Jesus casts into the pigs who ran into the sea.  As awesome as the miracle was, it scared the people, and they asked Jesus to leave the city.  Of course, the man just saved wanted to go with Jesus but here's the part that grabbed and instructed my heart.  Jesus said:

Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.

Here's what the saved man did:

So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

He wasn't waiting for people to ask and he wasn't talking about anything else other than the great things Jesus had done.  And, you know what?  They couldn't deny the fact that great things had happened to him as he went from being a crazy man running around naked or chained to keep him from running around to being a clothed man in his right mind proclaiming the truth that Jesus healed and saved him.   They couldn't deny the man had changed or his passion to proclaim Jesus!

You want to know what happened as a result of his proclaiming Jesus?

As Jesus returned to the city (after being asked to leave), the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him.  Many heard and saw the change in the man and wanted to experience what He had experienced with Jesus.  Oh, it's a beautiful thing.  I want that...I want my proclamations of Jesus to cause others to wait on and welcome Jesus.

A people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9.

I have much to proclaim...and that's why I sing: 
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bethelmusic/everbe.html 

Sunday
Jul302017

Entry #9 - Living stones

Processing 1 Peter 2:4-8

Years ago we had the joy of traveling through Israel while studying the Bible.  To be in the exact location where the Word we were reading and studying took place was amazing.  The word of God became even more alive and I left Israel with a greater love for and understanding of God's word.

One of the locations we visited was Caesarea Philippi.  A beautiful place situated 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mt. Hermon.  There is a beautiful spring there that feeds the Jordan River. Through the years, numerous temples had been built there to a variety of gods.  Where the spring emerges is called the grotto of pan.  Pan was half-may, half-goat, flute playing god over the the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs.  Go figure.

Anyway, around the rocks of the grotto of pan were a series of hewn niches.  Statues of other gods were placed in these niches.  A sacred place of worship, sacrifices and offerings.  During Jesus' time, this place was a Roman sanctuary, which included temples and ritual courtyards that had been built near the grotto.  It was a well-known and frequented place.

What does Jesus say when he gets there?  Matthew 16:13-18 says that when Jesus came to the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples a very important question.  He asked them:  "Who do the people say the son of man is?"

In a place where all these other gods are lined up in their niches, Jesus asks "who do the people say the son of man is?"  What a perfect place to ask this question and to have the following conversation with His disciples. Here's the conversation:

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” ad they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" Matthew 16:13-18.

Then Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?"  Guess who answered?  Peter.  The same Peter who goes on to write 1 Peter that I am currently studying and journaling through!

Standing in a place where stone, dead gods occupied caves and niches, Peter declares Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Not a dead god but a living God.  Significant, don't you think? 

Imagine yourself standing in the grotto of pan surrounded by a bunch of stone gods stuck in niches and in the presence of the living God.  Imagine for a minute being Peter - which by the way means rock.  You've declared Jesus as the Christ, the son of the Living God and now Jesus declares that upon you - Peter the rock - He will build His church. Not a moment or visual you would ever forget.

So, fast forward to 1 Peter 2:4 where Peter says: "and coming to Him as to a living stone, which has been rejected by men but is choice and precious in the sight of God."  Peter goes on to say in verse 5 that we "are also as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  

We follow and put our faith in a living God.  As Peter shares, a living stone.  Jesus, the living stone, was and is rejected by many but it doesn't change the fact that He is the Christ.  - choice and precious in the sight of God.  He is our Cornerstone because we who believe in Him are living stones being built up as a spiritual house - the church. Jesus rejected by men.  A stone of stumbling and a block of offense.  But, our very cornerstone.  

People who at one time worshipped those stone, dead gods would have understood this visual.  They would have understood offering spiritual sacrifices.  In 1 Peter is about building up the church.  Peter is giving them and us the visuals we need so that we can understand how to build and on what or who we are building (Jesus the cornerstone).  To show us what the church looks like and how it should function. Especially during times of great trials, persecution and suffering.

I just love discovering how God's word all fits together.  Don't you?

Tuesday
Jul252017

Entry #7 - Things I long for...

What does it mean to long for something?  What does longing look like or how does it feel? Good questions to Google!

Synonyms: craving; eager; languish, pining, yearning, anxious, ardent, avid, hungry, ravenous, wishful.

So, I ask myself:  Who or what do I long for?  

I remember my grandmother saying she was hungry for her children.  That woman loved her family and was in her happy place when all her children were home with her.  Hungry for her children was a wonderful way to express the longing in her heart to be with her children.  I am pretty sure there were times when she was ravenous for them!  

There are certainly people in my life that I am hungry to see and be with.  In this season of life, I yearn for deep and close relationships with people who live in the same town as I do!  Sometimes I think I am languishing without them. I crave fellowship with those who could spend all night long talking about Jesus.

While not as intense, I long for other things too.  On some level, longing helps me accomplish certain tasks because I long for what the completed task brings.  As I think about it, longing can be a very strong motivator.  Longing can also get me in a lot of trouble.  

As I read, wrote and journal-ed 1 Peter 2:1-3, the words "long for" jumped off the page.  It says that like a newborn baby, I am to "long for" the pure milk of the word.  The outcome?  So that by it (the word) I may grow in respect to my salvation.  

What a wonderful visual.  If a baby doesn't get the pure milk, that baby will not be nourished and cannot grow.  A baby longs for, is eager, craves and yearns for, is hungry and ravenous for milk.  It's innate and instinctive.  You don't have to tell a baby to be hungry.  At a certain point in a baby's life, it needs pure milk and only milk.  But, what if you gave the baby everything but milk.  See where I am going with this?

Like a newborn baby, I am to "long for" the pure milk of the word so that by it I can grow in respect to salvation.  If I try to satisfy that spiritually innate and instinctive hunger for God with other than the Word, I won't grow spiritually.  I will languish.  I have languished.  I have tried to satisfy my hunger and cravings and yearnings with things other than the word of God.  I don't think I even realized this was what I was doing.  Interestingly and at the time, I didn't realize I wasn't growing spiritually or languishing.  I was hungry to be and do and experience all this world has to offer.  Some of the things I longed for weren't bad things.  "Longing for" isn't wrong and sometimes is just part of being human.  If I am honest, I have to bring this into the present.  Some of the things I currently "long for" aren't bad things and longing for them isn't wrong but in fact is natural.  

But, here's where this verse pricked my heart.  Is my "longing for" the pure milk of the Word greater than my "longing for" all these other things?  Am I trying to satisfy myself with other than the pure milk of God's Word?  Are my "longings" motivating me to satisfy with things other than the Word of God when only the Word of God can fill the longing and produce the spiritual growth I need?  

Bottom line: Do I long for God and growing in my intimate and personal relationship with Him through His word as much as I long for all the other things in my life?

As I tie these questions and thoughts back into what I've been journal-ing about in 1 Peter, I am reminded over and over again of just how much and often I need God's Word.  I need to constantly prepare my mind for action and put aside former thinking and behaviors.  I think about the trials of this life and how hurts and disappointments can mess with my mind and heart.  But, if I am going to grow and be nourished spiritually, I must "long for" the Word of God.  Just like a baby that longs for pure milk.  There is no substitute.

Oh, but I've tasted so many other things.  I now have so many other things I crave, yearn and are hungry for...  Often I don't even know I am languishing spiritually until the signs of being spiritually malnourished are undeniable (malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander to name a few mentioned in 1 Peter 2).  

So, how do I get my taste back for God's Word?  1 Peter 2:3 tells me to taste the kindness of the Lord.  Taste that sweet morsel of truth. Savor it.  Tasting the kindness of the Lord stirs up my taste buds and causes me to long for the Word of God. Tasting the kindness of the Lord reminds me that God's Word is the pure milk I need to live this life of faith in Jesus.  There is no substitute.  It's the pure Word of God.  As I gulp down the Word of God, it nourishes me and grows me up spiritually, changing my thinking and behavior.