RSS

Tag Archives: 1 Peter

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:12-14

1 Peter 5:12-14 NIV
[12] With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. [13] She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. [14] Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Dear God, I don’t know how much there is to say about these final greetings, but it’s just nice that his last words in this letter are to encourage love and pray for peace.

Peace. Of the “Fruits of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22, it’s the one I use most to evaluate how I’m doing with you. I can fake a lot of things including love, joy, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self control. I can will myself to exhibit all of those things. What I cannot will myself to do is experience peace.

Not that everyone is that way. My wife and I have talked about this, and for her it’s not peace. It’s another one that experiences more of when she is close to you. So I’m not pretending like this should be true for everyone.

A young friend who is a new believer and has really been through some emotionally trying things said recently that he is concerned about a lot of his friend from high school. They aren’t doing well. They seem stressed and depressed. And these are college students who, outside of worrying about their grades, shouldn’t have a lot of stress in their lives. But what I never go a chance to tell this young person is that I was worried in the same way about him just a few months ago. He has a peace about him that he has only recently begun to exhibit.

Father, please bring me peace and then make me an instrument of your peace. Help me to tap into you so that you will flow into me and then through me to others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 23, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:5-11

1 Peter 5:5-11 NIV
[5] In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” [6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. [7] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. [8] Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [9] Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. [10] And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. [11] To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Dear God, when I selected these verses this morning I didn’t realize how many different admonition are in here. I think I need to break them down.

  1. Younger people submit yourself to elders – This can be hard to do because there are just some things that young people haven’t experienced yet. Life looks a lot clearer at 18 than it does at 45. And it probably looks clearer at 45 than it does 65. My wife and I were talking yesterday morning about how our perspective on things changes after we experience the humility of parenthood, careers, failure, caring for aging parents, etc. All of that seems a lot easier before you’ve done it. To be sure, the people in my life who have been quickest to give me parenting advice are those with no children. Those with children often know better. So I should definitely be more humble in my relationships with elders.
  2. Humble yourself before each other and God – Ah, that was an unintentional segue when I said humble at the end of number 1. This is just a good command. If everyone is proud then you get what we have right now in Washington and leaking into the rest oof the country. Or maybe it’s the rest of the country that’s leaking up to Washington. Regardless, whether it’s in your own home, you workplace, your church, or your interactions with others, it’s a lot better and it’s going to go more smoothly if we humble ourselves rather than be proud and arrogant.
  3. Cast my cares on God – That can be hard to do. It is certainly a learned skill. And then, as I’ve said before, there’s a fine line between living by faith and living in denial. It only comes through prayer and intentionally humbling (there’s that word again) myself before you.
  4. Be alert and resist Satan – Just remembering that Satan is there and working against us is a big part of the battle. It’s easy to see everything around us and forget that it is actually Satan attacking. There is suffering, but that’s where casting our cares on you comes in.
  5. In the end, through God’s help you will be strong and steadfast – This is all actually a nicely structured admonition from Peter. There is simply no way to become strong without suffering. It doesn’t work. Whether it’s physical strength or spiritual strength, that’s what it takes to learn to live in your peace.

Father, with all of this said, help me to live under Peter’s admonition today. Help me to respect and submit to my elders. Help me to live I humility. Help me to cast my cares on you and be aware of and resist Satan. And help me to stand firm in you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 5:1-4

1 Peter 5:1-4 (NLT)
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

Dear God, I’m not an elder in the church, but I am a leader of an organization and a person who is involved in a lot of aspects in our community. The question for me, I think, is, what are you calling me to do to care about the people around me? How should I care for the flock entrusted to me? How do I do it with humble love?

If I were to make a list of the needs in our community that are on my radar it would get out of control quickly. Just off of the top of my head:

  • Early childhood intervention for children in poverty
  • Human sex trafficking
  • Drugs and substances like vaping in the schools
  • Social worker for the school to help with situation-by-situation interventions
  • Domestic violence
  • Men’s Bible study for those economically disadvantaged

A couple of those tangentially touch my vocation, but none of them would be part of our organization’s mission statement. Any involvement in them would be absolutely extra work for me. Thankfully, you partnered me with others who have been able to take up the domestic violence issue and there is now a group taking that and running with it without me. And I know there is a nonprofit along with churches in town who are looking at childcare–perhaps not real intervention for traumatized children, but it’s a start. In fact, most of these things have others who care about these issues besides me. I think what I need to do is figure out at what level you want me to be involved in each one through prayer to you and the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Then there is the leadership I need to provide to my own family. What does my wife need from me? What do my children need? There has been one thought that came to me a week ago regarding one of my adult children, and I still feel like I need a lot of wisdom from you before I know what to do about it. But I know that, whatever you call me to do, you want me to do it through gentle love and not by lording it over them.

Father, help me to know how to lead, and also help me to know how to follow and be an easy person for others in authority over me to lead. Help me to not grumble, but to find ways to finish the race and complete the tasks you have given to me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 4:12-19

1 Peter 4:12-19 NIV
[12] Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. [13] But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. [14] If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. [15] If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. [17] For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? [18] And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” [19] So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Dear God, when I read this passage I have two thoughts:

1. I have no idea what this type of persecution is like.
2. There are plenty of people in the world who do and I need to pray for them.

When I hear people wonder why there is suffering in the world, I can explain most of it, but there is some evil I cannot explain. One of the biggest is human sex trafficking—especially sex trafficking. I think about the young victims and how helpless they are. Of course, even that evil would happen if there wasn’t a long list of people waiting to exploit them. From watching porn to actually purchasing their services, it’s a horrific situation. I saw “The Mule” with Clint Eastwood recently, and it’s the same kind of thing where, once you’re in, you are trapped and you’re not getting out without outside intervention.

But I digress. There are literally Christians around the world being tortured and killed because of their faith. Father, please see them, support them, alleviate their suffering, and don’t let it go to waste. If it must happen at the hands of evil people, please at least make it count. Make it count. I don’t know how to help them. I don’t know if sending money to someone would help. I don’t know if writing my Congressman or President would help. I don’t perceive that it would. I just want you to please, please help these people.

As far as thinking about this passage from Peter’s perspective, he knows about this suffering first hand, and he knows the pain of it and the power of it to witness to others.

Father, help me to live a life that is a prayer to you. Help me to represent you in all ways. And please help these Christians around the world and touch their persecutors so that they might see your glory, repent, and turn to you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 18, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 4:7-11

1 Peter 4:7-11 NIV
[7] The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. [8] Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. [9] Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. [10] Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. [11] If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Dear God, it’s interesting that Peter and Paul were under the impression that you would be returning at any minute. I suppose that created quite a sense of urgency for them.

I wonder how my life would change if I felt that same sense of urgency. What would it look like if I were able to make some of my decisions as if I’m in this earthly life for the long hall and but still had this overriding drive telling me you could be returning at any moment? Would my job be the same, but interactions with others be different? Would I actually make a lot of mistakes because I would lose my patience with how slowly your plan can unfold sometimes? As I think about it, one of the things you’ve really taught me over the last few years is to wait on you. I can see where the overriding thought that you could return at any moment would actually nudge me into doing some damage.

Father, as always, help me to hear your voice and follow your leading at any given time. Love through me. Encourage and inspire through me. And also encourage me along the way, although it feels silly to ask you that last one because you’ve encouraged me several times over the last year (and always). So thank you for that too. I really am grateful and try not to take you for granted.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 16, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 4:1-6

1 Peter 4:1-6 NIV
[1] Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. [2] As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. [3] For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. [4] They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. [5] But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. [6] For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Dear God, I had a great compliment the other day. A young coworker told me that my wife and I are “goals.”

“What does ‘goals’ mean?” I replied.

She said, “You’re the kind of people we want to be like.”

I have to confess, I never imagined anyone would see us that way. Now, in her case, I think she sees a financially middle class life that she would love to have, but I also think she sees stability and peace. And while I don’t go around beating people over the head with the Bible, I do think that everyone knows how important following you is to me. I hope that at some point she will connect the dots of the parts of my life that she appreciates to the idea of submitting myself to you.

Lest I get too haughty, there are still plenty of areas where you are still refining my heart. I get that. So please help me to be aware of those areas of my life that still grieve you and help me to willingly purge them. Help me to make it clear to those around me that the decision to follow you is the core of who I am and that your grace and love can set them free.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 15, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 3:8-22

1 Peter 3:8-22 NIV
[8] Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. [9] Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. [10] For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. [11] They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. [12] For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” [13] Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? [14] But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.” [15] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, [16] keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. [17] For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [18] For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. [19] After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— [20] to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, [21] and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, [22] who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Dear God, there’s a lot here, and maybe I should have broken it into a couple of pieces, but I couldn’t find a good separation point. It all flowed together pretty well.

I guess what struck me about Peter as I read all of this is that Jesus was his personal, real life example. Jesus taught him personally to love Gentiles. Jesus taught him to do good in the face of evil. And Jesus taught him all of the things he asks us to do here.

So now, Peter is teaching us, but it’s important for us to teach others. We become the part of the fire that is asked to pass on the spark to another: “[15b] Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, [16] keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Father, I told my wife yesterday that I am feeling convicted that I let too many of these opportunities pass me by. Whether it’s with friends, family, coworkers, clients, or a stranger whom I can tell is in pain, I am often too timid to teach. So help me to remember to do this when you present me the opportunity and help me to do it with gentleness and respect. I don’t want to push anyone away from you because I am an arrogant fool. I just want to offer them a peace that they won’t understand until they have embraced your mercy and forgiveness.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 14, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 3:1-7

1 Peter 3:1-7 NIV
[1] Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, [2] when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. [3] Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. [4] Rather, 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. [5] For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, [6] like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. [7] Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Dear God, oh boy! Now we get to deal with Peter the misogynist. I’m being sarcastic, but that is the first thing some people will see when they read these passages. It’s hard to remember context when you read stuff that was written 2,000 years ago. Heck, it’s hard to remember context for things written five years ago. A lot changes over time, and a lot has changed over the last few years.

I was watching some old Saturday Night Live sketches a few months ago, and when I say old I mean that they were from about eight years ago. The jokes they were making about men and women, sexual harassment, etc. would not be aired today—not even by SNL (South Park, maybe). They would be deemed inappropriate.

Then you go back 40 years. I’ll watch movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Convoy” and consider how they treat law enforcement with such irreverence. I wonder if those movies, especially “Smokey and the Bandit” would be made in the same way today. How much of the script would be changed?

Of course, you can go back 150 years to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and consider the language Mark Twain used to refer to black people. Of course, his publisher would never allow that now. Published for the first time in 2019, the book would have to be severely edited.

On the one hand, it is good that all of these things have morphed over time. We are growing as a society and as humans. We are recognizing the prejudices that have been baked into us as we grew. On the other hand, I think all of these pieces of art and recordings of our history help us to see where we used to be and how far we have come. One of the things I love about the #metoo movement is that Hollywood has taken its eyes off of judging a lot of society for things of which it disapproves and they have turned it back on themselves. We are all growing.

So I say all of that, probably unnecessarily, to point out that this is Peter (and Paul did it too) moving the ball forward. This is Peter telling women that they have power and influence that is beyond their sexuality. He might not have totally gotten it and been “lit” on this issue, but he was certainly pushing the boundaries of a cultural norm of the time. And then he turned it on the husbands. He tells them that their treatment of their wife will impact their relationship with you (“…so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”). No, Peter is not “lit,” but anyone judging him for that probably doesn’t realize how “unlit” they themselves are.

Father, give me a mind that is open enough for the Holy Spirit to give me your thoughts. Be glorified in my words and my actions. Help me to see your truth beyond the millennia of lies that have been baked into my training. And help me to be the man my wife needs me to be. No, better said, help me to be the man that you need me to be for my wife. And help her to be what you need for me. Teach me through her and teach her through me. Do this all so that you might use us in your world for your maximum glory and the benefit of others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , , , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 2:13-25

1 Peter 2:13-25 NIV
[13] Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, 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 people. [16] Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. [17] Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. [18] Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. [19] For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are 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. [21] 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 cross, 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.

Dear God, there are a lot of parts to this, and I almost took them apart and did one section at a time, but I think they are interwoven. I saw the first part about submitting to earthly authorities and I thought, ultimately, about Jesus and asked myself whether or not he submitted to the earthly authorities by going against what the church leaders were saying throughout his life. What about Peter himself, the author of these words? Didn’t he get himself imprisoned and killed?

But then I found verse 20, kind of tucked away in the middle of this passage: “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.” I think there might be times when we will have to follow our conscience and suffer at the hands of those in authority over us, but if we do it because we are following you then it’s okay. I think maybe the submission part is us submitting to the earthly consequences of our actions. Jesus submitted to being beaten and crucified. Paul submitted to being imprisoned. Peter was beaten and jailed several times and ultimately killed, but he submitted to it.

We are coming up on the day we observe Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in about 10 days. He and a lot of other people like him certainly walked this road, before MLK, with MLK, and after MLK. He didn’t raise up a physical revolution, but he did force the authority in his life to deal with them and their positions. I guess it’s not fair to say, “he,” because he certainly wasn’t alone. But you certainly imparted a leadership gifting upon him that helped to change a lot of things.

So where does all of this leave me and lead me? I tend to keep myself on fairly safe political ground even thought I have some strong political feelings. Part of it—okay, a lot of it—is a defense mechanism because I know that I have to raise money from people of all political persuasions and I don’t want my political opinions to jeopardize the work that we do. I also do it because my thoughts are not completely formed. I haven’t taken the time to educate myself and research the issues from trusted sources (not just the media on either side) so I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting off on a tangent here.

Father, I guess I can cut this line off by just saying that I need to you guide me into my role in the world around me. I need you to let me know what to do, what to say, and what to think. I need you to let me know who needs my energy and my love. I need your grace over me for my failings. I need your grace to flow through me so that others might be drawn to you, to freedom, and to wholeness.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,

Peter & John — 1 Peter 2:11-12

1 Peter 2:11-12 NIV
[11] Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage 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.

Dear God, I absolutely believe in choosing to abstain from sinful desires, but I also think it’s important to admit when we’ve failed. As I get ready to speak to a group of men this weekend, the thing that keeps coming to me is that I don’t want to come off as holy and perfect. I don’t want to be impressive. I want at least some of them to find something from the struggles through which you have brought me that will speak to them and give them hope in you.

It’s always interesting to try to find that line. One of the interesting things about my job is that I end up being publicly recognized for doing good works. And I get too much of the credit for the hard work of my coworkers. I don’t know how much of an effective example for you I can be in that light. Yes, I can use my position to encourage others in how much they serve the community, but my best moment with a donor last year was when they came for a tour and our conversation turned to our struggles as parents.

Father, you make me strong through my weaknesses. Of course, none of that would be possible with Jesus’ love and redemption. Without that I am nowhere. But I have your grace and that helps me to deal with my weaknesses and sins honestly and then use them to help draw others to you. Help me to do that, both this weekend at the retreat and every day.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

Tags: , ,