Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Live in Reverent Fear of Him


Peter is old when he writes this letter.
He has seen the Good News - the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - spread across the known world.

He has also observed and experienced the hardship of the opposition to God.

He calls his readers (and us) to a life style.

I Peter 1
13 "So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”[c]

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.[d] Love each other deeply with all your heart.[e]

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God."

Those who accept the Gospel, who believe, have been cleansed from their sins. They have been born again. (Yes, it is in the Bible)

Now we are to rise to that life. Be holy. Show sincere love.

Live in reverent fear of God...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Greetings!

Our entire country is involved in Greetings right now.
Today it is estimated there will be 800 MILLION pieces of mail sent. That is a lot of greetings, and gifts, and packages.

Peter's circumstances were not as easy as ours. He did not have a hallmark card in which to write. But listen to the words he uses to greet the believers!

1 Peter 1


Greetings from Peter

1 "This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.[a] 2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
May God give you more and more grace and peace."

God's chosen people! God the Father KNEW you and chose you!
You have obeyed Him.
You have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

What a profound greeting!
Have you become one of God's family?
Have you been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ?

This Christmas season would be a great time to become a child of God.
Send me a comment and I can lead you to do what I and hundreds of millions have done around the world.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Such noble thoughts! Such exalted language!

Such noble thoughts! Such exalted language!

Paul is in prison.
In chains.
Uncomfortable.
Being told what he can do, and what he cannot do.
He is innocent. Wrongfully accused.

Here is what he writes...
Ephesians 1:1 "This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding."

No wonder Christianity took over the world.

If it can produce this kind of attitude.
This kind of noble thought, this kind of exalted language...

It is unstoppable!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faith Brings Joy

Faith Brings Joy

The Bible says it.
Research demonstrates it.
Our culture tries to reject it.
But it is true - faith brings joy!

Romans 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God."

Faith brings joy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Amazing Words, Amazing Power, Amazing Disobedience

This story is filled with high drama!

The disciples - JESUS' disciples - were doing miracles and healings...

12 "The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. 14 Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. 15 As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. 16 Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil[f] spirits, and they were all healed."

The folks who had lots of religious power, but no spiritual power, didn't like it one bit!

17 "The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, 20 “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”

21 So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching.

When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council[g]—the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial. 22 But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, 23 “The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!”

24 When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. 25 Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!”

So now the religulous arrest them, confront them, threaten them and beat them...

26 "The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. 27 Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. 28 “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” he demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!”

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.[h] 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. 37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.

38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.

41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.[i] 42 And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”

The disciples had amazing power! Amazing words! And never once did they even consider obeying the orders to stop preaching, stop teaching, stop advancing the Kingdom of God!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christian Socialism

Christian Socialism
Permanent pattern or temporary aberration?

In the days following Jesus's resurrection, the disciples were proliferating exponentially. It was an exciting happy time. Here is a description of how they lived.

32 "All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles."

If you look at Scripture and conclude that descriptions of behavior are mandates to act accordingly, then we should still be doing this.

The interesting thing is that, with small exceptions, this pattern has never been followed on a sustained basis by Christ's followers.

Is it that Christians are greedy? Disobedient? Missing the mark?

Or was this a description of a historical event that was not copied even by those that participated in it? An economic model that is unsustainable??

What do you think?