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Entries in 1 Peter (10)

Wednesday
Sep062017

Fiery Ordeals

Processing 1 Peter 4:12-19

This morning in my journible of 1 Peter 4, I wrote out the following verse.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange things were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)

Fiery ordeals abound.

As I write this, Texas and Louisiana are still recovering from the devastating effects of hurricane Harvey. Irma, a category 5 hurricane is threatening other parts of the US. Destroying everything in their path are the wildfires out West.  

At the same time these fiery ordeals make the headlines, I have friends and family who are burying and grieving the loss of loved ones, facing death due to illness or age, battling significant health issues, emotionally distraught from a variety of life events, and on the list could go.  

Indeed, fiery ordeals abound.

 According to the word study tools found on http://biblestudytools.com, fiery ordeal means:

  1. the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced
  2. by a figure drawn from a refiners fire
    1. calamities or trials that test the character

I probably didn't need to define fiery ordeal, but you can't just read 1 Peter 4:12 and keep going. It boggles the mind and fills you with the need to break it down so you can actually get your mind around it. 

You see, I seem to forget that I'm not supposed to be surprised when fiery ordeals come. Oh my goodness, I seem to always be surprised by fiery ordeals as though some strange thing were happening to me. In the fog of fiery, I forget that the ordeal is testing my character and testing my very faith. I say I believe many things about my God and my life but it is only as I am being roasted and reduced that my faith is proven real and genuine.  Again, in the fiery fog, I lose sight of this very profound truth.

Fiery ordeals can easily overwhelm human strength and emotion. Watching others bear up and endure fiery because of their faith, brings hope and courage to me and I am sure to you. When I see people in Houston who have lost everything and are standing in a shelter singing praises to God, my heart is filled with strength and courage. Genuine and real faith at any time but especially during a fiery trial is a beautiful thing.  Here's what Peter said earlier...

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Our faith in Jesus is more precious than gold.

As I ponder with the Lord these verses this morning, my prayer for those of us who love Jesus and are in or facing fiery ordeals would be that our faith would be proven real and genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor to Jesus. May we keep entrusting our souls to our faithful Creator and do what is right and excellent.  For those who do not yet know or love Jesus, I pray that as they witness the real and genuine faith of us who know and love Jesus, they would be drawn and won to Christ.

Using Peter's words in 1 Peter 5:10, I pray that during your fiery ordeals, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

PS.  I know the context of these verses speaks specifically of fiery ordeals that come as a result of identifying with Christ, but I believe the principles I'm sharing about what trials produce can be found throughout Scripture.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Treasure to hide in your heart

Processing 1 Peter 4:1-11

My time in 1 Peter 4 has been rich and given me much to ponder and hide in my heart.  Here are two treasures.


“Therefore since Christ has suffered in the flesh arm yourselves also with the same purpose because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” ( 1 Peter 4:1)

The New American Commentary explains it this way:

…Those who willingly endure scorn and mockery for their faith, show that they have triumphed over sin. They have broken with sin because they have ceased to participate in the lawless activities of unbelievers and endured the criticisms that have come from such a decision. The commitment to suffer reveals a passion for a new way of life, a life that is not yet perfect but remarkably different…"

 

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)

The New American Commentary explains: 

"When believers lavish love on others, the sins and offenses of others are overlooked...while those who are full of hatred use the sins of others as a springboard to attack them."

 

 

 


The New American Commentary - Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 198). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Sunday
Aug202017

R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... find out what it means to me

Processing 1 Peter 2:18-25

As I was reading "servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle but also to those who are unreasonable..." the 60's song R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Aretha Franklin came to mind.  

Yes, I started spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T followed by "find out what it means to me."  Okay, alright!  I admit I repeated "sock it to me" a few times a well.

I immediately started to scold myself for singing 60's music lyrics about a man doing a woman wrong while reading Scripture.  But, as I continued to process and write out these verses and thinking about the story behind the song, my thinking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T was being challenged and adjusted.

Respect is earned and not given, right?  We expect and demand respect while at the same time withholding respect from those who don't deserve it.  Giving and showing respect and honor is reserved for those who earn and deserve them. 

Well, this thinking doesn't line up with what God's word says in 1 Peter 2.  Boy, this is so good and applicable for what's going right now in our nation.  Based on what I've just read in Scripture, we need to adjust our thinking when it comes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  It's not all about "what it means to ME" but what it means to the LORD.  Talk about sock it to me.

This talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T comes right in the middle of the section that calls us to be excellent in our behavior and then goes on to describe what that looks like.  "Honor all people, love the brotherhood fear God, honor the king...." and then he says to R-E-S-P-E-C-T your masters.  And not just the good and gentle ones but those who are unreasonable and those who treat you unjustly and even cause you to suffer.  Yikes!

Okay, so we don't have "masters," but we do have employers and other relationships in our lives where people have some authority over us.  They make the calls, and they can make our lives miserable.  We've already been instructed to submit to every human institution, honor all people, honor the king and now to subject and respect those who have authority over us. This flies in the face of culture and human emotion.  So this is what I am supposed to do, but how?  And, can someone please remind me again of the why?

What if I don't get the R-E-S-P-E-C-T I deserve?  When those who have some authority in and over my life are unreasonable and cause me to suffer unjustly, how do I respond?  Here is God's answer:

Follow Christ's example:

  • Commit no sin
  • Speak no lies
  • When reviled, do not revile in return
  • While suffering, utter no threats
  • Keep entrusting yourself to God who judges righteously
  • Die to sin
  • Live to righteousness
  • Remember the cross

 Keep my behavior excellent.  But wait, shouldn't we fight for injustices?  Of course.  Are we supposed to sit back and let the unjust rule?  No.  But, sometimes we aren't in a position to effect change.  Sometimes we are stuck in an unjust situation with an unreasonable person or persons.  Whether we have the ability and authority to effect change or not, the point is we keep our behavior excellent.   

Honor and respect are given not demanded.

This is a tough pill to swallow for those who are suffering unjustly.  I admit I sat in silence with the Lord after reading these verses as my heart struggled with just how unfair and unreasonable this sounded.  Follow Christ's example...  I know.

But have you ever thought of Christ's example as humanly impossible?  I mean that's Jesus. He's God. Of course, He could do it.  I scold myself again. I realize somewhere tucked deep inside my heart and mind is this idea that because He was fully God and fully man, the God part of Him kicked in giving Him the ability to endure such suffering.

I know what you are going to say.  The Spirit of God that lives within me immediately reminded me too.  I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. The same power is within me.  Surrendering to and walking by the Spirit is the key to this life in Christ.  In my own strength and flesh, I cannot keep my behavior excellent.  Respect and honor the unreasonable and unjust people in my life?  I need Holy Spirit power for that.

I need to keep reminding myself I have the ability to live this way because I have the Spirit of God within me. But, I also need to keep reminding myself of why it's important to live this way.  I am...

  • A beloved child of God
  • To be holy as He is holy
  • Redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus
  • To proclaim His excellencies
  • An alien here - my home is Heaven
  • To conduct myself with fear during my stay here
  • To keep my behavior excellent

Doing what is right glorifies God and silences the foolish

I can endure because I have the enduring Word of God, the Holy Spirit of God and the example of Christ. Oh Lord, help me to surrender my will to Yours and walk by the Spirit so that I do not carry out the desire of my flesh (Galatians 5:16).

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)