Monday, April 27, 2015

Distressed?

"... and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment." - 2 Peter 2:7-9
The movie "Gone with the Wind" came out in 1939. This film brought one profane word to the silver screen before the ears of the public for the first time and with it came great distress from Christians. Seventy-one years have passed and profanity on the big screen and television has become regular fare. Sadly, Christians aren't so distressed anymore. As the world has drifted farther from moral absolutes, the Christian community has followed... not far behind. Where is our distress?
Lot was a man of mixed allegiance to God. His choice to live "near" Sodom, and eventually "in" Sodom is a story of spiritual slippage at its worst. But, Peter recorded that Lot never lost his righteous sensitivity that was tormented by the lawless deeds that he saw and heard. Lot was never disconnected from the Lord, and before judgment fell, God delivered him. Lot was surrounded by evil, but he persevered as a "righteous soul" and he was distressed.
We live in an age of great evil and unrighteousness. Our country murders children in the womb without any sense of guilt. We see the lifestyles of the first chapter of Romans surrounding us every day. We know that in time, God's judgment will fall and he will deliver his own. But while we wait for his coming, will we slowly accept and tolerate the Godlessness around us or will we remain a "a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9) and be distressed?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reminders

"So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things." - 2 Peter 1:12-15 
I stood with six men that I had known for years and found myself unable to remember the name of one of my friends. My mind went totally blank. The memory is a tricky thing at times and in the best of health we can have a loss that totally frustrates us. Spiritual truth is easily forgotten was well, no matter how long we have known the truth. We all need regular reminders if we are to be firmly established.
There are times when we are tempted to seek the "new" and "unique" at the cost of leaving the old paths behind. Peter knew that the old truth was the life changing truth that is timeless. He also knew that we all need reminders and he was totally focused on the ministry of remembrance. He wanted to leave behind a solid foundation as a lasting legacy.
Why should we revisit Scripture reading year in and year out? Why should we sit under the preaching and teaching of the same Biblical truths on a weekly basis? The fact is, that we all tend to forget and we need to remember spiritual truth if we are to be firmly established. Never hesitate to remind yourself and others of spiritual truths that will change your life for the better.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Discipline

"O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear... O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior." - Psalm 38:1-4, 21-22 
Discipline is always difficult. Whether we are corrected by our parents, school teachers or the local authorities, the process is still painful at best. The ideal hope is for a learning process that will lead to the correction of bad behavior. Discipline should ultimately be a help that will save us.
David knew that he was suffering from the corrective hand of God. He had lost health and soundness due to his sin. He was a Godly man, not just because he most often lived for God, but because he also acknowledged his sin whenever he failed God. David was overwhelmed with his guilt and sought the Lord for help and salvation. 
Are you willing to acknowledge your sin when God comes knocking at your door? When suffering comes your way is it possible that the Lord is working to purge you of habits that will destroy you? Why continue day by day with guilt that weighs you down? The Lord will never forsake you, so cry out to him in repentance and ask that he comes quickly to help you with his saving grace.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fellowship of Suffering

 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." - 1 Peter 5:8-9 
Elijah complained in 1 Kings 19:14, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” To this the Lord responded in verse 18 with, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." In the face of spiritual warfare we often feel alone in the battle, but we find new courage when we are aware there are others who are fighting with us. We're strengthened by the Lord and inspired by the fellowship of suffering.
As Peter wrote to the early church under severe persecution, he charged them to resist the devil and stand firm, because there were others in the fight as well. He reminded them that they were not alone in the battle, so they would be encouraged to remain steadfast. As Elijah of old, there were others who suffered persecution but remained true to their faith. There was strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.
The spiritual warfare is difficult and the pressure is great, but we are never alone in the battle. Be steadfast my friend, resist the devil and stand firm in your faith. Take time to remember, there is strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Let us pray

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. " - 1 Peter 4:7

Martin Luther said he had only two days on his calendar - today and "that day". The end was always on his mind. As a result, Luther was man of intense prayer, spending his best three hours a day in prayer. As the future pressed upon him, he prayed.
Peter wrote to a community of believers that were under constant persecution. Harassed on every side, Peter called their attention to the Lord's return and their need to be clear minded and self-controlled so they could pray. The best way to handle the present and the future is to pray.
While time passes far too quickly, the end of all things is nearer than ever. Shall we waste our hours on the frivolous or spend them on the eternal? If our days on this earth are coming to an end sooner than later, let us make the best use of the time that we have... let us pray.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gentleness and Respect

"But in your hearts set apart 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." - 1 Peter 3:15-16

During the 90's we would occasionally watch a political talk show called "The Capital Gang". My son, who was quite young at the time, would ask why the guys kept yelling at each other. He concluded that they were angry and to a young mind, that just didn't make sense. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.
Many Christians are quick to quote the above passage up to the word "But". They are armed to the hilt and ready for battle whenever questioned about their faith. Peter called believers to always be ready with an answer for their hope, "but" with gentleness and respect. It's not just what we speak that brings truth to light, but how we speak. Belief and conviction is good, but it is best communicated with gentleness and respect.
Always be well prepared with Biblical truth in the face of error my friend. But may truth come with love. Love the lost as Jesus did. Answer their queries with the grace that has changed your life as well. Be someone with a clear and concise conviction, but communicate it with gentleness and respect.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Just trusting

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 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." - 1 Peter 2:21-23
Some years ago I viewed a "Voice of the Martyrs" video and found it to be quite convicting. A group of teenagers were on a V.O.M. visit to Vietnam and were asking a Christian leader if he felt anger when the authorities would often tear up his ministry center. He responded without ill feeling, that he was committed to reach his world for Christ, no matter how much opposition came his way. He entrusted himself to the Lord.
Persecution of any kind will bear witness to genuine faith and real discipleship. The fully surrendered Christian knows that there will be suffering for their faith. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". Jesus is our example in this matter, as he suffered without retaliation or threats. He entrusted himself to the divine provision and purpose. 
My brethren, we're in a battle led by the Captain of our salvation. We will be persecuted and oppressed at every point. Some of us will suffer great loss and others will suffer humiliation, but commit your way to the Lord. As David wrote in Psalm 37:5-6, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Stay the course my friend, and entrust yourself to the Lord.