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.