Thursday, November 18, 2010

Persevering through Trials

So many days I have thought about this blog and how I was ever going to get back to my study on I Peter.
I have been busy these last 7 months working on a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning. I have been studying, studying and studying some more. I must admit that I am feeling tired and worn out today. My son is a Junior in high school and the life of a soccer mom never seems to quit. My mind is tired and my body is weary. I am currently sitting in a hotel room at a soccer tournament in NC. I have homework to do and all I really feel like doing is sleeping.

This year we have struggled still with our oldest child who is doing much better now but is still trying to figure out what to do with her life. She discovered she was expecting a baby 10 weeks ago and then today discovered at the doctor's office that she had lost the baby. I am convinced that no matter how one looks at the situation (Young, single, unwed mom) that the grief over the loss of a baby is never easy. I know that God has a perfect plan for her life but I wonder at times why she has to struggle so much so soon.

My heart breaks for her since I know personally what it is like to lose a baby. I pray that God will wrap his arms around her tonight and assure her of his peace that never fails. I pray she will not give up on her dreams and hopes and that she will continue to trust God and his plan for her life.
Perhaps this is why we have to persevere through trials because God is making us stronger for something ahead that we know not now.

I do hope some day to finish my study of I Peter but for now. I must live life with perserverance.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life is a whirlwind

Getting back to my blog has been on my heart and mind for weeks now. My life has been so busy these last couple of months. I have been busy working on my Masters Degree in Elementary Education and working in ministry with my husband and raising teenagers. My daughter is still in the midst of her court issues so we are still waiting and praying for a good ending to the trials of her life. My son is a very active sophmore in high school and is playing soccer so I am on the go with this all the time also.

I began to wonder what would be a couple of good books to suggest to you that have helped me out in these days of business.
One book that has helped me is by Emilie Barnes called Survival for Busy Women. Her book has helped me to keep goals in mind and to keep myself organized more in my home. Perhaps it will help you as well.

I have also enjoyed reading some devotional books from Women of Faith. The one I am currently reading is Infinite Grace- The Devotional by Patsy Clairmont, Mary Graham, Nicole Johnson, Carol Kent, Marilyn Meberg, Sandi Patti, Jan Silvious, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Thelma Wells. Thomas Nelson Publishing.

I promise to get back to the study of I Peter. I want to be sure I am doing proper research before I delve into chapter 3.

I hope you all are doing well. Keep spending time with the Lord each day. Keep trusting Him to carry you through each day.

God bless.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Peter 2:11-25-Understanding Biblical Submission

Today we look at how we should act in the midst of suffering and how we should submit to leadership over us.

vs.11-12- Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Peter is telling us how we should live in the midst of this world. We are in the world but not of it. We are to stay away from sinful desires. Our human nature is always at war with the spiritual nature and we must keep away from things in this world that would pull us away from fellowship with Christ and other believers. We are to be such a good example to the world that our good deeds will help them to see the glory of God in our lives.

How are our lives demonstrating the glory of God on a daily basis?

vs.13-20- Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14-or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15- For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16- Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17- Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 18- Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19- For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is a conscious of God. 20- But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Peter discusses in these verses how we are to behave as it relates to government and slaves.
In our society today, we no longer have slaves but it does speak to how we should submit to the authority of others. This word submission is hupotasso which means "lining up under authority". I believe our society today has made submission a dirty word. I had a conversation just a couple weeks ago about this very topic. I believe that when God created us he did this with order in mind. God has a perfect plan for our lives and how we are to relate to each other. I once studied in a Beth Moore study, I can't remember the exact one, but she mentions how we are under God's umbrella of protection. I believe that God's perfect design for us is related to this umbrella of protection. God designed rules and authorities in our lives. We are foolish to believe that we are never accountable to someone. God placed our government as authority over us. Our employers are an authority over us and we are instructed to align ourselves under this authority in obedience to God's Word. Our obedience to those in authority will draw the world to us because of our integrity and cheerful submission to those over us. Obedience is a big hurdle to jump over in our humanistic society that feels you can do whatever you feel like when you feel like doing it. God on the other hand shows us how we can have freedom in the midst of submission.

I look at it like this. We are free to live as Christ would have us to live. This is a life free of selfish desires and worldly attitudes. This freedom keeps us from the pitfalls of living as the world lives. This mentality is living in a spirit of servanthood to those around us. It means seeking ways to give to others as opposed to what can I take from those around me. This submission or obedience to Christ is freeing.

Let me conclude with our verses in I Peter 2:21-25.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22- "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. " 23- When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24- He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25- For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter again is reminding us of the passages in Isaiah 53. Our shepherd Jesus gave us the perfect example of what obedience and submission mean.
Are we willing to lay down our lives so that others may know him? Are our lives going to glorify the Father? How are we going to be servant leaders today?

All scripture is taken from NIV-Life Application Bible- 1991- Zondervan and Tyndale Publishing

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Peter 2: 6-10- Christ- The Living Stone- Gods Chosen People

Our last time together we talked about Christ being the Living Stone. Today our verses continue in this theme.

v. 6- For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Peter is speaking the words of the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 28:16) I love how the scriptures tie together from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the story of our redeemer Jesus Christ.
Here we see that if we are trusting in Jesus our precious cornerstone we will never be put to shame.
v.7- Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, (Ps. 118:22) vs. 8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." ( Is. 8:14). Again, Peter refers to two Old Testament scriptures about Christ being the stone. One, that is precious to those who believe. Christ is the foundation of the believers faith and this picture of Christ being the cornerstone shows that he is our true foundation. In vs. 8 The stone that causes men to stumble and the rock that makes the fall uses two metaphors that illustrate what results in our disobedience to Christ. (Patterson & Kelly, 2006). As believers, we are not be a stumbling block or obstacle to other believers. This is shown in (Rm. 9:32-33, 14:13,20, I Cor. 8:9) The rock that makes them fall is a snare or trap that causes someone to fall. According to Patterson and Kelly in the Women's Evangelical Commentary it states " Jesus used this word when He rebuked Peter for objecting to His telling the disciples of His imminent death in Jerusalem (Mt. 16:23) and when He acknowledged the ...impediments to belief and of people who cause the downfall of others. (Mt. 18:6-7, Lk. 7:1)" p. 820.

This tells me that as believers we have a mandate to live holy lives as Peter spoke earlier in his book. We are to live lives that think of others first so that we do not become a stumbling block to others who are still growing in the faith. We are not to cause our brothers or sisters in Christ to stumble and fall. May we live lives of integrity and holiness to be an example to the world of what a Christ-follower should be.

v.8b- The stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for. Christ came to die for us all and we have the choice to believe in Christ and follow Him or to not believe and live in disobedience to His will for us.

v. 9- But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. v. 10- Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
These verses speak to believers today as well as the nation of Israel. The church today has not replaced Israels role as "God's chosen people" but believers today, thanks to the work of Christ on the cross, gave us the ability to come to the Father without a "priest" to intervene for us. (Heb. 4:16- speaks to our ability to come directly to the Father)
So now, how are we to live as God's chosen people, his holy nation and belonging to God. We are to declare his praises. Our lives are to glorify the Father and give him praise for everything in our lives. Good or Bad. He has called us out of the darkness of sin and placed us in the light of his life. We have received mercy and we are to show mercy to the world.

I am reminded today that even in the tough times of life, God is in control. When we walk through the dark valley's of life- He is there. We must trust the God who saved us and called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
May we walk in the light today. May we have the love of Christ shining on our faces and bring the word of his salvation to the world.

Shine brightly today!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Handling the Hurts

How do we handle the hurts of ministry?

This question arises so often when speaking with ministry wives. We feel hurt from the believers in our churches when they say or do things that hurt our husband or his ministry. We feel hurt when our children are not treated as they should be. We feel hurt when ministry seems to overshadow the family time. We feel hurt when we feel so much is taken for granted by the members in our church.

So how do we respond as Christ would have us to respond when these times of hurt come. Believe me, they come, and at times in heavier waves then we care to admit.

First of all- I am reminded of Ps. 6:9- The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. When I am dealing with hurt, the first thing I do is cry out to the Lord. He hears us and he wants us to share the burdens of our heart. Then, we are to leave it there and ask him to help us to return the same mercy to those who have hurt us.

Second- I must be willing to forgive others. Ps. 103:12 says that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Just as Christ forgave us, so are we to forgive others.

Third- Ps. 103:8- The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Ladies, this one is the hardest to learn. In the midst of great hurt, we must be slow to anger. There have been many times when I have had to pray for the Lord to put a lock on my tongue. We must respond in love to those who have hurt us. We are to abound in love toward them.

These three nuggets of truth have helped me to survive working in ministry. I have to remind myself that we are working with imperfect, forgiven people just as I am an imperfect forgiven person. God will give us the grace and the strength to heal from the hurts in our lives. Some hurts just take longer to heal then others. Don't let a root of bitterness enter your heart. Pray, pray, and pray some more for the Lord to heal you and help you to continue forgiving.

Remember the Lord will be there with you every step of the way. He will bring something good out of every situation that seems hopeless.

Cry out to him, Pray to him, Sing praise to Him and remember who He is. He is our Saviour, our faithful Father, our deliverer, our healer, our protector, our right hand, our shield, our lawyer, our provider, our faithful friend, the Lion of Judah, the Everlasting Father, the Great I Am.

Remember Who He Is. Trust Him. He will heal. He will restore. Praise His Holy Name.

I Peter 2:4-5 _The Living Stone

Again, I have been too long in creating the next step in the study of I Peter. I must work on being more consistent with our study. My life has been hectic since the last posting with school work, home life and ministry life. This is no excuse though to cease being consistent in my study of God's Word so I will press on.

Vs. 4: As you come to him, the living Stone- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- Vs. 5. you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Peter began a new section in these verses. He is reminding us that Jesus is the living Stone and is the foundation of our lives. Peter wants us to be a living example of what Christ can do in our lives. Our spiritual house has Christ as the foundation and we are to be a holy priesthood. We can approach God because we are a holy priesthood. Heb. 4:16 -states that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence because we do not need a mediator between God and us. As children of God we can approach our heavenly Father one on one.

We can bring our offering of spiritual sacrifices to him directly because he is our God. We have personal access to the Father and he hears us.

What kind of spiritual houses are we building? I was reminded this weekend at our Pastor and staff wives retreat that we must first minister at home. At the end of our lives, what will matter the most. How will our families remember us. We must be consistent in our walk with God. We must strive to love our children and our families as Christ would have us to love them. Then we must work to reach out to the lost around us and to help those in our church families.

I was also challenged again this weekend that if our spiritual well has run dry then we do not have much to share out of the outflow of our hearts. We must stay plugged in to the Word each day in a personal time with God. Our ministry study time should be in addition to the personal time we spend with our heavenly Father. Jesus needs to hear us praying to him and sharing with him and listening to him through our own personal study of his Word. This way we are staying plugged in to the source of our strength and we are then able to minister to others the way Christ would have us to minister.

Lord, help me to be more consistent in my walk with you. Help me to stop putting ministry before my personal time with you. Never let me stray from your side. Help me to stay so close to you Lord. I love you, Lord.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Peter 2:1-3

I Peter 2:1-3

Vs. 1- "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2- Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3- now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

If you remember the end of chapter 1 stated that "And this is the word that was preached to you."
Peter was reminding us that because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we are to live holy lives. So in 2:1, Peter is giving us examples of what we are to rid out of our lives. I have often told ladies in Bible studies that we come to Christ like an uncut diamond. Christ knows what beauty is inside that diamond but we have to be rid of the parts that are not in order to shine the light of Christ brightly.

What are these things to be rid of- Malice- this is a characteristic that seeks to hurt others and live in opposition of God. Deceit- This speaks of a deliberate dishonesty. Hypocrisy- This speaks of living a life of insincerity, pretense, an outward show. Envy- This is an embittered awareness of another's advantage combined with the desire to possess the same.
Slander- evil speaking and defamation- this is speech that harms others.
( all above definitions taken from Womens Evangelical Commentary- Patterson and Kelley-2006)

All these traits hurt others and does not exemplify a life of love toward others.

Peter then tells us to crave the spiritual milk of the Word of God like a newborn baby craves for milk. This word crave means to fervently long for, pursue with love, yearn for - (Patterson & Kelley, 2006)

As believers we are told to crave, hunger, desire the Word of God. Recently, we had our Youth Evangelism Conference and our speaker David Nasser challenged us to crave after the Word of God because how will we draw a lost world to Christ if we do not seek after Christ and his Word before anything else. Perhaps part of the reason we do not reach more for Christ is because the world does not see God's Word making a difference in our lives.
This Sunday I was challenged by my pastor who reminded me to be busy following the command of our Lord to go and be a witness. This was a fresh challenge to me to be ready at all times to share the faith that I profess and to remember what Christ did for me and be ready to share at a moments notice.

Time is short ladies- Be ready to share your faith- Hunger for his Word and be rid of the things in your life that will cause your light to dim.

Let's be a shining diamond for Christ in all we do and say.

Encouragment in ministry

I just wanted to take a moment to say how important it is to be a part of an active fellowship of believers.
I am always so blessed after spending time with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and spending time studying God's Word together.
I was blessed to spend a short time with some of our church planters yesterday and my heart was encouraged and blessed to see how God is using them.
I am grateful for the ministry the Lord has placed us in and have just a small part in what God is going to do and is doing in their lives and ministry.

If any of you planter wives are reading this just know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep up the good work of spreading the Word and building His church.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Peter 1:22-25

Today we finish looking at I Peter 1.
Vs. 22 - Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

This verse is encouraging us to love others with the same love that Christ had for us on the cross. We are to love with sincerity and love deeply from the heart. ( Some early manuscripts say "from a pure heart") (NIV study Bible post note)

Yesterday we looked at how precious the love of Jesus was for us that he laid his life down for us on the cross. As believers who have been purified by his blood and we believe this truth for ourselves, we are to love others with this same incredible love. How often would we love our fellow sisters and brother in Christ this way. Do we love so deeply that we would lay down our lives for them?

Vs. 23-25 - For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24- For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25- but the word of the Lord stands forever."

The quoted verse above comes from Isaiah 40:6-8- I love how our Scriptures all tie together, the Old Testament with the New Testament. Peter was reminding the people of what God had told Israel from the prophet Isaiah.

God's Word is an everlasting word, it is timeless, imperishable. Even though we will someday die and no longer be on this earth. God's Word lives on forever. One day we will be with "the Word" in heaven someday.

I hope the first chapter of I Peter has been one of encouragement and comfort for you. It is exciting to realize that we have an enduring, imperishable hope in our heavenly Father and that the promises of his Word will never go away. When we go through our life on earth with suffering and pain his Word will always be with us. When we have times of joy and gladness, his Word is with us.

Today lets remember to love others deeply and with a sincere and pure heart. Lets remember his enduring, everlasting promises. Stand strong in the faith and in the promises of his Word.

Finally, the last part of 1Peter 1:25 gives a teaser for tomorrow.
"And this is the word that was preached to you." This will lead us off for tomorrow as we look at 1 Peter chapter 2.

Have a great day ladies and remember his promises- His Word endures forever.

Note: All scripture is taken from Life Application Study Bible- NIV- Zondervan Publishing

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Peter 1:17-21

We are back to our study of I Peter. Sorry for the long break.

The last part we studied was speaking of Holiness and how we are to live holy lives before the father in this world.
Today, the passage continues with verse 17- "Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." (NIV)
God expects us to live out our lives as a testimony to what he has done for us. We are not get too comfortable here on earth because our ultimate home is heaven. So in the meantime, live in "reverent fear" of our holy God. We are to have a "reverential awe" of our God. (Patterson and Kelley, B & H, 2006) This in itself should cause us to live a holy life.

Vs. 18 - For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19- but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (NIV)

Redeemed - Gk. elutrothete- means to be released, delivered, liberated from a payment of ransom. Precious -Gk. - timio- of great price, very costly, especially dear.

As you see from these definitions in the Greek as believers we are delivered, released from the debt we owed for our sins. Who is it that paid that ransom? Our precious Saviour, Jesus!
Just as the Passover Lamb had to be perfect and without blemish, our precious Jesus was also without defect. He was the payment for our sins. The blood he shed on the cross paid the debt we owed for our sins.
This passage just makes me want to shout. Peter wanted us to see the importance of the price Jesus paid for us. Our sins are gone. Our guilt is gone. Hallelujah. I think Peter had to feel the weight of this when he realized how he had denied the Lord and yet he was forgiven and restored. Even though he claimed three times during the trial of Jesus that he did not know him, later after his resurrection Jesus restored him when speaking to Peter about how much he loved him. Jesus charged Peter to follow him and he followed faithfully even unto death.
Peter declared boldly to the followers of Christ to please understand the depth of the love that Christ paid on the cross.

Vs. 20- He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Vs. 21- Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, so your faith and hope are in God. (NIV)

Peter knew that God had redemption in mind when he created the world and he wants us to remember that though he died he was raised from the dead and is now in heaven with the Father. This is our hope for living. All other religions have a belief in someone who is dead. Our Saviour is alive and he is in heaven now preparing a place for us.

My challenge to you today is to live your life understanding the great gift of our redemption in Christ, the hope of the resurrection and the life of joy we can live in this world.

Put your hope in God today and live triumphantly in Christ.

Walking through the valley

I am sorry for taking so long to get back to blogging. Life since Christmas has been so incredibly busy. We have been sorting through piles of books to donate to an overseas library, I have had visits to the local courthouse again with my daughter, more soccer, soccer, soccer. I have also been working some for my sons soccer team. Then school began this week. Lord have mercy, what am I doing. ;) :)

I wanted to write just a moment about walking through the valley in life.

I know Psalm 23 speaks of walking through "the valley of the shadow of death" I must say I am not in that valley but after a disappointing day in court with my blessed teenager once again, I am finding how hard it is to walk through valley's of life with our children that are just difficult to understand. I have been so grateful for her decision to know Christ in personal way, I have seen her whole outlook on life change. Her attitude, her desire to learn and change has been wonderful to see and yet we continue to struggle through consequences for past actions.
I keep praying for God's protection over her future and that he will intervene in a powerful way that only he will receive the glory.
She has a desire to be a social worker and help others that struggle. I just thought "Lord, does she have to learn this much about the process to be able to help others some day?"
Anyway, life just seems to throw us curveballs and we better have our spiritual mitts ready to catch what is coming and stand strong in the battles of life.
I thank God every day for the strength he gives and for the power of his word in our lives. May we never stray from his side so we can stand.