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Posts tagged ‘First Epistle of Peter’

{ Day 361 }.


Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God‘s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-5

Gentleness (meekness). We need to approach praying for others with a fresh awareness that we don’t have the answers for them but that we know the One who does. This keeps us from presumption and platitudes. Our movements, both physical and verbal, need to be gentle rather than abrupt or harsh. If we can help set them at ease by knowing that they are safe in our presence, then they will be able to receive more easily from the Lord.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Give me a spirit of gentleness, dear Father. Pour Your oil of gentleness over my spirit, and cause it to flow carefully and consistently into the lives of others through a gentle spirit.

Our movements, both physical and verbal, need
to be gentle rather than abrupt or harsh.

BY MIKE BICKLE.

Does Your Facebook Rant “Honor Everyone?”.


Trevin Wax

die-facebookSometimes, evangelical Christians do more harm than good on Facebook.

Under the veil of “taking a stand” for our values, I fear we are letting loose all kinds of dishonoring, uncharitable speech. We need to stop.

The Cause of Frustration

I understand the frustration of conservative Christians who sense that the values we once shared with the dominant culture are slipping away. Things have changed. We’ve gone from being the moral majority to a minority – and sometimes we feel beleaguered. We come across examples of social ostracism or we hear about the legal challenges Christians face when they fail to compromise. It’s frustrating to watch the brokenness of Washington, D.C, as politicians in both parties seem more concerned about their prospects for reelection than the people they represent.

Evangelicals are having to learn how to be a distinct minority – people who must make a case for our values in the public square rather than simply assuming others share our views. We will soon be known for beliefs that are out of step with contemporary society. So be it. The Church has been in this situation many times before.

The question before us is this: Will we be known for honor?

Conduct Yourself with Honor

The Apostle Peter’s letter was written to “exiles,” believers facing persecution far greater than any of us Americans have ever seen. These Christians were living under a tyrannical government far worse than any bureaucrat in a D.C. office. Yet Peter instructed believers to live honorably among others (1 Peter 2:11-17). The “others” refer to those who are not “in Christ.”

The word “conduct” appears thirteen times in the Bible, and eight of those times are in Peter’s letters. It’s safe to say, Peter cared about how our conduct was viewed by outsiders.

Now, the fact that Peter says we should live honorably among others means we must indeed be among the lost. Some evangelicals, weary of partisan bickering and political posturing from their Christian friends, are ready to throw up their hands and avoid political engagement altogether. I understand that sentiment, but failing to be present or involved in any meaningful sense in a democratic republic would be to forfeit the stewardship we’ve been given. There is no retreat here.

The question is not if but how we will be involved. It’s a change of posture, not political persuasion.

I like the way John Piper puts it:

“Being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.”

Slander Shouldn’t Stick

We also ought to live and speak in such a way that slander is untrue and charges of hypocrisy don’t stick.

When people claim that pro-lifers are only concerned about the unborn, and not little children or hurting mothers, we ought to be able to say, “Not true” and have the care of thousands of Christians behind us to prove it. Our good works ought to silence the ignorance of people who would slander us in foolishness (1 Peter 2:15).

Honor Everyone

But here’s where it gets hard. We are to honor everyone, Peter said. Even the emperor (1 Peter 2:17). Yes, the bloodthirsty, sexual maniac on Caesar’s throne must receive honor from Christians suffering under the thumb of a dictatorship.

Please don’t tell me Obama is worse than Nero.

Paul backs Peter up, telling us to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

The Honor Filter

So, instead of just putting up internet filters so we can control what comes into our computers, perhaps we should put up an “honor filter” that will help us control what goes out of our computers. Consider what questions an “honor filter” we could ask of our Facebook and Twitter statuses.

  • Is my point of view offered with respect to those who disagree?
  • Do I assume the best of those who are my political opponents?
  • Does it look like I am raging against injustice or against people made in God’s image?
  • Am I showing honor when reviled or slandered?

For the Christian, it’s not about winning a culture war. We win through how we engage our neighbors. Our honor should be on full display… even on Facebook.

How to Conquer Discouragement.


Felicia Alvarez

“I have a tough life,” my five-year-old cousin said.

“Really? Why is that?” I asked.

Folding his arms, he looked up at me with his big blue eyes as he rattled off his complaints. “Well, I get spankings, I get time out, and I have to clean my room!”

I couldn’t help bursting out in laughter. In return, he just looked at me quizzically as if silently asking, “Why are you laughing? I’m serious!”

After regaining my composure, I shook my head and said, “I don’t think that’s too terrible, buddy. I think you’re gonna be okay.”

Later that day my cousin’s complaint made me wonder: How often does God smile down at usand say, “Everything is going to be all right, my child”?

In our fallen world, we’re constantly bombarded with situations that tempt us to complain about how tough our lives are. Sometimes our troubles are miniscule (like traffic or a cranky boss), but other times they are genuinely difficult and can be quite discouraging (like an abusive spouse or a dying loved one). Our worries can weigh us down and cloud our perspective, causing us to forget:

  • that, since we are citizens of heaven, our problems on earth are only for a season (Philippians 3:20).
  • that God works out everything—even tough situations—for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
  • that we can trust God with our lives (Psalm 55:22).

When trouble hits, we tend to see only challenges. So, how can we get a fresh perspective on life when discouragement is weighing us down?

Here are a few things that have helped me:

1) Determine if the cause of discouragement is worth being discouraged about. First, I ask myself: Am I upset about something important or something trivial? Often a long line at the supermarket or a rude stranger can put a damper on the entire day. But are those worth being upset about?

2) Determine if the loss is imagined or real. Frequently I’m only upset because of my own “what if…” thoughts: What if she thinks this? What if they do that? What if I don’t do well? What if they don’t like it? 

When “what ifs” or imagined thoughts weigh you down, ask God to help you take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Choose instead to dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

3) Talk to the right people about the problem. In 1 Samuel we find the story of Hannah, a woman deeply grieved because she was unable to have children. In her sorrow, Hannah cried out to the Lord for comfort. She went to the temple year after year to pray, and the Lord heard her prayers and opened her womb. Her story is an excellent reminder that we should, first of all, talk to God about our sorrows. “Cast all your anxieties upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

We can also dialog with encouraging Christians who will speak God’s truth into our lives. However, we need to be careful when selecting these confidants. Discussing the matter with those unable to provide wise advice doesn’t help us. It may even deepen our discouragement or spread it to others.

4) Dive into the Word. God’s truth is the best defense against Satan’s schemes. Several years ago I had two stress fractures which kept me from being active. It put my hobbies—and career—on the line. Needless to say, I was very discouraged. But during that time I dove into the Bible and, in the depths of my sadness, He spoke to me in deeper ways than I had ever experienced. The trial didn’t disappear, but God’s Scriptures lifted me out of the valley of discouragement. It empowered me to endure the trial with contentment and peace instead of depression and bitterness. Sometimes our lows in life are what bring us closest to God. Don’t miss the opportunity by pushing away from God; run to the open pages of the Word!

5) Pour into others. I once heard someone say that it’s better to live life giving away than pulling away. Giving to those in need reminds us of what we have to be thankful for. So, visit a lonely person. Help an elderly neighbor with their yard work. Write a letter to someone who needs cheering up. Are there children at your church that need a mentor? Take the opportunity to disciple them and point them to the Lord. The more you serve, the more you’ll find that your perspective change from gloominess to thankfulness.

6) Rest in the Lord. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” During an extremely difficult situation in the life of Christian author and pastor, Andrew Murray, he eloquently penned:

“First, He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
Then, he will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here,

1) by God’s appointment
2) in His keeping
3) under His training
4) for His time” 

No matter what your trial, God will see you through it. “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.

Publication date: October 22, 2013

If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going.


woman walking through hell
(© mangojuicy iStockPhoto.com)
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
This quote showed up in my twitter feed last week. It reminds me of two Bible words with which I have a love/hate relationship – perseverance andendurance. These are two of the most precious, important instructions in the Christian vocabulary. Yet they are some of the hardest as well. My best friend talked with me about these words after her husband left her for another woman.
She had to uproot her life to begin again in a new state. She said that, day after day, her mantra was just to do the next thing. To take one step, then the next step, and then the next step in what felt like a never ending slog through a waist deep river rushing against her. Eventually (after 8 years or so), she slogged through the worst of it.
She didn’t emerge onto completely dry land with no struggles, but she certainly has emerged into a new season of life of much more peace and fewer intense struggles.  Most of all, she has seen redemption and healing in key relationships.
Persevere! It’s the best of advice. It’s the hardest ofstruggles. I long at times to curl up in the fetal position in bed. Yet, I have to buck it up and go volunteer in my son’s classroom. I’d rather drink myself to oblivion, but instead I need to make a lesson plan for a math class I’m teaching the next day. Some days, just getting up and taking the next step is the most profound expression of faith we can do.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
1 Peter 2:19-20 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
The marathon of whatever trial you are facing will certainly one day end. In the meantime, lessons from earthly marathons are helpful. I learned some lessons about endurance while running a … cough … 5k. Ok. I know some of you are big runners who put my tiny little 5k to shame. But my two little 5k’s put to shame everything I did physically the first 40 years of my life. So there.
I trained and built up from being able to run 10 feet to being able to run 2.5 miles. But no part of those miles when training was easy, and the last mile of the 5k beyond what I had practiced before was mindnumbing. It was just the sound of my shoe hitting the pavement and letting my breath out, over and over again. Don’t stop jogging. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep going. I imagine that feeling is greatly intensified for those in 10k’s or true marathons.
The thing about our Christian walk is that few of us know if we are in a 5k, a 10k, or a full blown 26 mile marathon. I know I will not be disappointed when I see Jesus face to face for the first time in heaven. Whatever I had to endure on earth, I know I will not have regrets over the long term trials God allowed in my life. But that’s the marathon.
That’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer praying psalms to himself as he walks naked to his death in a Nazi concentration camp. There was no ultimate physical rescue for him in this first life, though he walked with supreme confidence of his rescue in the next. But for many of my friends, rescue does come, at least in part, in this life.
I have two friends in particular who went through brutal seasons in their marriages who have both emerged from those seasons with resolution and healing – one after a divorce not of her own choosing and one still married and serving God with her husband. Those are the shorter runs – the ones with earthly resolutions. I love to read and hear about believers who have been rescued in this life – from sin, from sickness, from death, from bankruptcy.
When I am struggling to endure as I wait for redemption in parts of my own life, I seek out stories of redemption in others’ families, churches, or ministries. To me, such stories of redemption are like the cups of cold water runners receive from the sidelines in their long distance run.
Most of all, I am able to endure because of the One who endured before me, who endured FOR me.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
This is the thing that empowers me to keep going – that Jesus kept going for me. He endured the shame of the cross for a joy on the other side, and He’s surrounded us as we run along in our own marathon of suffering with a cloud of witnesses who have gone on before us who now stand cheering us on from the sidelines. The picture God gives us in Hebrews 12 of this marathon is beautiful!
The greatest aspect of this inspiring picture is that it moves me from seeing myself slogging alone against a swollen river to seeing myself running together in community, with Christ and with those who have gone on before me. I am cheered on by the community of believers. Those living. Those dead. We rejoice together in the redemption they have already experienced, and we endure together with those still longing for redemption to draw nigh in all aspects of their lives.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.
Adapted from Wendy Alsup’s blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books includingBy His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. 

Truly blessed…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.”    
1 Peter 3:14a

There were two views in Jesus’ day and there are two views today about who is truly blessed, and they’re the same today as they were then.

Who is blessed? If you were to go around and read people’s minds to get the honest answer, the honest opinion would be based on the way people live their lives. People essentially would say that the blessed are those who are famous, those who are healthy, and those who have lots of money.

Think about the way you live your own life. Do you live your life for these material things more than anything else does? If so, you believe that these are the things that make a person blessed. Of course, it’s not bad to be famous, healthy, and rich, but if you believe that they are what make us blessed, then I hope you are these things.

However, my greater hope is that you know that it has nothing to do with the thriving, fulfilling, life-giving kingdom of God, which is the greater blessing and is available to everyone.

Prayer: Lord, help me keep my “blessings” in order. The world tells me one thing about being blessed in life, and you tell me another. I believe you. I am truly blessed to live in your kingdom on earth. Amen.

Reflection: Who in your circle of friends and family do you believe is the most blessed? Why?

Seeking Approval.


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.
1 Peter 4:11

Recommended Reading
1 Peter 4:1-11 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Peter%204:1-11&version=NKJV )

We all seek approval, wanting to be liked, respected, admired, and appreciated. But when put into practice, our Christian principles sometimes incur the disapproval of others. The apostle Peter warned his readers to turn away from “lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries,” even though our friends will “think it strange that [we] do not run with  them  in the same flood of dissipation” and will speak evil of us (1 Peter 4:3-4).

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

In obeying Christ, we may lose the approval of peers, but we’ll gain the approbation of the Lord. For the Christian, there’s blessed peace in knowing God no longer sees us in our sin, but He sees us through Christ. He’s not disapproving of His children. Our sins are forgiven, and all our efforts to live for Him are blessed.

Whether you speak or minister, do it with a sense of God’s blessing and approval, no matter what others may think. As you labor with the ability God supplies, He will be “glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11b).

What higher approval could a person enjoy than to know that what he or she has done is pleasing to God?
R. C. Sproul, in Pleasing God

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Matthew 14-17

By David Jeremiah.

Ready to Answer? Or Ready to Attack?.


As Christians, the Bible tells us we are to give an answer to every man who asks us: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). That phrase “give an answer” is from the Greek word apologia, from which we get our English wordapologetics. It means a legal defense, as in a court of law.

But we are to keep in mind that as we make our case in the courtroom of public opinion with those we are speaking with, we are not there as prosecuting attorneys, but as witnesses. And witnesses simply testify to what they have seen.

Yet sometimes Christians, armed with all the information they can get, assault unbelievers with what they know and effectively blow them out of the water. They have won the argument but lost the soul, and that is not the objective. Even though we may know a great deal, we should present the information with love and humility. In 2 Timothy 2:24–25 we are reminded that “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition. . . .”

When you are telling others about Christ, often you will be barraged with questions. Sometimes people ask questions they actually want the answers to. And sometimes these questions are intended to get you off track. They are intended to get you to go away. So when we are dealing with these questions, it is important to address what we are being asked, but also remember that our core message for the unbeliever is the gospel.

Taken from “Ready to Answer” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

Greg Laurie

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