Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God

May 22, 2015

The Word of God has much to say about offerings and sacrifices. The Old Testament introduces us to the notion that offerings and sacrifices were a key part of the practice of relationship with God from Cain and Abel, to Noah, to the patriarchs, to Jethro the priest of Median, to the ratification of the Mosaic covenant by sacrifice. This is true before and after the tabernacle was built. Regardless of your understanding, you should know that in the Old Testament sacrificial system the sacrifice, that is the spilling of blood, was continual. Sacrifices had to be made continually. This spoke to the inadequacy of the sacrifice. While sufficient in the moment, it was not a sustaining and completely satisfying sacrifice. This also spoke to the nature of man’s character and his ability to meet God’s expectations. Since man is fallible, he could never meet God’s expectation of perfection.

What was man to do? Would man’s character morph into infallible from fallible? NOT. As the population continued to grow, could the Old Testament Sacrificial system continue? No. There would have been massive slaughtering of animals. While not the major reason this process stopped, the primary reason that it stopped was that a perfect and sustaining sacrifice was made. The perfect and satisfying sacrifice was Jesus’ death on the cross. 1 Peter 3:18 says,

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.”

Why is it that Christ’s sacrifice is satisfying and sustaining? Why does His sacrifice meet the demands of God? God explains this in Hebrews 7.

“17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
    ‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

Why is it that Christ’s sacrifice is satisfying and sustaining? Why does His sacrifice meet the demands of God? Simply put, God said so. For those who want more, Jesus was God incarnate. He was perfect, so a perfect sacrifice satisfied God’s perfect requirement; therefore, it is only through Christ that man can truly be forgiven. Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. Without Christ, you will not be able to commune with God. Jesus declares it Himself when He said, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6  Those are Jesus’ Words not mine.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—(Romans 5:8, John 1:12 respectively) Jesus suffered the consequence of sins, separation from God so that you would have the opportunity to be united with God. Honor His sacrifice and follow Him.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord

May 21, 2015

We have all kinds of sayings that involve the heart. I love you with all my heart. You are in my heart and mind. I learned your number by heart. Idioms abound regarding the heart: a bleeding heart, a change of heart, a heart of gold, for the faint of heart, have your heart set on, after one’s own heart, chicken-hearted, put your heart in it, tear one’s heart out, and on and on.

Generally, we all understand what we mean by heart. For our text today, the Greek word for heart in this verse is kardia (kär-dē’-ä) which denotes the center of all physical and spiritual life. The soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours. Considering that statement and those idioms, there is great competition for the heart of man. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

We know from all those few verses that the conflict of life revolves around who wins our heart – this world, man, or God. A heart reflective of this world reflects the selfish desires, the opinion of others, worldly wisdom, the pressure of circumstances, and many other. The heart reflective of a pursuit and thirst for God reflects a simple and complete allegiance to the one and only Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a heart that pursues the purposes of God not those of self.

In 1 Peter 3, Peter addresses the matter. Listen to what God says through him,

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.

The challenge for the people then who were experiencing persecution was to consider others, their safety or Christ as Lord. There is only room for one Lord in our hearts. It will either be someone, something, Christ that seats on the throne of our hearts. God tells us who it should be But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Lord being he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord;the possessor and disposer of a thing; the owner; one who has control of the person, the master. Ultimately, this is God, the Messiah – Jesus Christ.

For those of use who think that man has a good heart and can lead ourselves, Jeremiah addresses that matter. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 1 Kings 11:9  Will you turn your heart away from the Lord, the one true God? Peter gives us instruction in the matter. He says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord

Be Kind, Compassionate and Forgiving to One Another

May 11, 2015

I can think of a lot of things that I want from those whom I love the most, but I would be hard pressed to find something greater than to Be Kind, Compassionate and Forgiving to One Another. In order for those three actions to be present and prevalent in a relationship, love must exist. Love of God and love of the person. It takes the love of God to prompt you to forgive someone who has hurt you especially when it was intentional. It takes the love of God and a mindset bent on emulating Jesus in order to Be Kind, Compassionate and Forgiving to One Another.

As I was going to 1 Peter this morning, Ephesians 4:32 surfaced. It was quoted at church yesterday. It was one of the first verses that my daughter remembers learning. In fact, we have a light moment over it from time to time because of the word “hath” used in the King James. Hath serves a reminder to her to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. When she is giving it to her brother for something he did or as she is expressing her frustration/anger at someone even me, all I have to do is say “Hath”. The Word of God is sharper than a double-edge sword. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The Word makes us take a step back and reflect on our behavior. Is it indicative of God or us.

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (KJV)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

That’s the Word of God. According to the Vines Expository Dictionary, the Greek word for kind is chrēstos (khrā-sto’s) means primarily signifies “fit for use, able to be used” (akin to chraomai, “to use”), hence, “good, virtuous, mild, pleasant” (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, sharp, bitter). It is said

(a) of the character of God as “kind, gracious,” Luk 6:35; 1Pe 2:3; “good,” Rom 2:4, where the neuter of the adjective is used as a noun, “the goodness” (cp. the corresponding noun chrestotes, “goodness,” in the same verse);

(b) of the yoke of Christ, Mat 11:30, “easy” (a suitable rendering would be “kindly”);

(c) of believers, Eph 4:32;

(d) of things, as wine, Luk 5:39, RV, “good,” for AV, “better” (cp. Jer 24:3, 5, of figs);

(e) ethically, of manners, 1Cr 15:33.

There are two other expectations in the verse: compassionate and forgiving. I would not attempt to address those today, but we understand what kind means in contrast to what is hard, harsh, sharp or bitter. Can we focus on being kind today out of reverence for Christ and a desire to be like Jesus? God, through Paul, has commanded us to Be Kind, Compassionate and Forgiving to One Another. As followers of Christ, we do not have an option as to whether we want to be kind to someone today. We are told to do so. While I am not attempting to address being compassionate and forgiving, it should be noted that we will not be kind in truly unless we are compassionate and forgiving.

If someone offends or hurts us, the last thing, in the flesh, we want to do is to be compassionate and forgiving. God has called us all to walk in the Spirit; therefore, let us surrender right now to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let us accept that when we are offended today that we will show compassion, which is an action not solely a feeling, and forgiveness by being kind to the person who trespassed against us. This is especially true for those who are in the body of Christ. Remember 1 Peter 3:9, 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.

Be blessed by making the effort to Be Kind, Compassionate and Forgiving to One Another.

How Do We Get to God?

May 5, 2015

In the movie The Bucket List, two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. There were many places that we all wish to go. As we seek to get to a chosen destination, we have many options. We can drive our own vehicle, ride a bus, travel on a train, fly on a plane and even cruise on a boat in many instances.

What do we do when our destination is not reachable by those means? We begin to seek a means that will get us to where we want or need to go. Like those terminally ill men, we too have a terminal illness – sin. Isaiah 59:2 says,

“But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear.”

We have the illness of sin which separates us from God. God is life; therefore, we have no life when we are separated from Him. Since we are separated from God, How Do We Get to God? Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How? Through Jesus. You might not agree. You might question Christ’s claim in light of all the other faiths, but in John 14:6, Jesus declares that He is the only way to God. It’s the man who stated that He was God declaration. The disciple Thomas had a similar inquiry. He said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” In response, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

How Do We Get to God? Through Jesus, but just in case you are still wonder, Peter confirms what Jesus and the prophets have said all along. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.1 Peter 3:18 The Word of God says that Jesus died to bring you to God. When you reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are rejecting your way to God. You are rejecting the truth, and you are rejecting life.

How Do We Get to God?  Once more, through Jesus. In this case, GPS stands for God’s Providential Sacrifice. It is through the sacrifice of Christ that we have access to God. It is through Christ that we are considered righteous though we are still unrighteous. Will you attempt to get to God on your own, or will you accept, seek, and pursue “the way, the truth, and the life”?

Submit!

April 30, 2015

Normally, I will be the first one to say that Submit does not carry a positive connotation. When I was a little boy, I used to watch wrestling on channel 17. There were many wrestlers who had submission holds to make their opponents give up or conceded. As a student in school, I had several teacher who used to say we should submit to their authority or control. Not! They were bossy ladies who were more concerned about their control than us. When I look back over things, most authorities appear to be more concerned with their power than the people, so no wonder that the word Submit carries such a negative connotation.

Despite that, I am here to encourage you to Submit. Submit to whom? Well, this is where it might get a little sketchy for you. Hear me, no, hear God clearly on the matter. Let’s go to 1 Peter 3

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, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 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. 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, 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.

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.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 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.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

As a practice, I don’t usually present that much biblical text, but this is a special occasion. We need to see the context of submitting to other people through the proper lense because we deem many as not worthy of us lowering or submitting ourselves. Submit is defined by dictionary.com as “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another“. The word for Submit in 1 Peter 3 is hypotassō (hü-po-tä’s-sō) which means to:

  • to arrange under, to subordinate

  • to subject, put in subjection

  • to subject one’s self, obey

  • to submit to one’s control

  • to yield to one’s admonition or advice

  • to obey, be subject

In the passage, God, through Peter, calls for us to Submit a wide variety of people out of reverence for Christ, out of following Christ’s example. This is the heart of the matter. If we call ourselves Christians, we must do as Christ did. Christ, who Himself is God, took on flesh to be subjected to those whom He had created. Imagine that – the Creator subjecting Himself to those whom He had created. Did Jesus have to Submit in order to execute the plan of God to redeem man to Himself? YES!!! Jesus gave up more than we will ever understand, but we know it was a lot. Now, He is asking us to do the same.

Whether with a husband, a wife, a boss, a policeman, a guard, a mayor, councilman, governor or an adversary, we have been charged with ‘not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but to repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.‘ We are called to revere Christ as Lord in our hearts. Submit, I say yes.

Yes, today, there will be someone who clearly does not out rank you or deserve you to Submit to them but do so out of reverence for Jesus, do so out of your desire to honor Him and reflect Him in a dying world. Submit!

Abstain from Fleshly Lusts

April 27, 2015

In his writing to the saints scattered throughout the areas, Peter encouraged them in the way they should live. In 1 Peter 1:15, God says through him “Be holy, because I am holy.” Continuing that call for holiness, Peter is found in the second chapter explaining how holiness looks in everyday life. 1 Peter 2:11-12 says

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. (NIV)

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (NKJV)

The Greek Word for lusts is epithymia (e-pē-thü-mē’-ä). It is also translated as desire. Here are other words that connote its meaning desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden. We all have desires that run contrary to the Word of God. Those desires, according to the test, relate to having the nature of flesh,” i.e., sensual, controlled by animal appetites, governed by human nature, instead of by the Spirit of God (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.

For the believer, God talks about the existence of two natures: the flesh and the spirit. It emerges on the scene in Romans 8. Listen, to what God says,

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

We see it spelled out plainly for us in Galatians 5. Paul says, “16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Paul further talks about fleshly or worldly natures in 1 Corinthians 3.

For those who claim to follow Christ as Lord and Savior, we have an obligation to walk in the and by the Spirit. Peter knows that and refers the believers back to walking by the Spirit. He knows that those fleshly desires/lusts wage war against our souls; therefore, we must ready ourselves for the battle. We cannot afford to capitulate to the sins that pervade our minds. We must resists and subdue those thoughts. We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.

Famed Commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote the following about the matter:

He warns them to beware of fleshly lusts, 1 Pet. 2:11. Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need an exhortation to abstain from the worst sins, which the apostle here proceeds most earnestly and affectionately to warn them against. Knowing the difficulty, and yet the importance of the duty, he uses his utmost interest in them: Dearly beloved, I beseech you. The duty is to abstain from, and to suppress, the first inclination or rise of fleshly lusts. Many of them proceed from the corruption of nature, and in their exercise depend upon the body, gratifying some sensual appetite or inordinate inclination of the flesh. These Christians ought to avoid, considering, 1. The respect they have with God and good men: They are dearly beloved. 2. Their condition in the world: They are strangers and pilgrims, and should not impede their passage by giving into the wickedness and lusts of the country through which they pass. 3. The mischief and danger these sins do: “They war against the soul; and therefore your souls ought to war against them.” Learn, (1.) The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul; it weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul, hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into everlasting misery. (2.) Of all sorts of sin, none are more injurious to the soul than fleshly lusts. Carnal appetites, lewdness, and sensuality, are most odious to God, and destructive to man’s soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them.

He eloquently shares why We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts. I am not sure about you, but I know the struggle is real. I know there are desires or thoughts that come across my mind all day waging war against my soul. I must commit to fight against those desires. I must abstain from the fleshly lusts. We know from Galatians 5 that 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

For God, the matter rests entirely on who is leading you – the Spirit of God or the flesh. As a follower of Christ, I should be led by the Spirit of Christ. More than any reason, this is why We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.

Nothing Can Stop God’s Plan for Your Life

April 24, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 4.43.59 AMThe bible is replete with verses about plans, lives and futures; yet, we are really consumed with what lies ahead in our lives. It is our penchant to obsess or be anxious about the unknown that perpetuates this matter; however, at the root of being anxious about what lies ahead is our failure to trust in God and who He is.

It was almost a year ago that God prompted a job change for me. It was wrought with uncertainties. Would I serve in an administrative capacity going forward? Would I work close to home or far away? Would I be able to provide for my family? What impact would this have on my life, marriage and children. There is nothing wrong with questioning. The flaw is in the assumptions. All of those questions are in the negative. They involve worry which is inherently selfish. None of those questions involved me asking God what was His goal for the change in my life. It was all about me. I have discovered over the years that it is never really about me. It is about God. I know; that is hard to accept, but God is at the center of everything He does not us. Sure we benefit, but the glory is intended for God.

Back then as always, God allayed all of those questions fears with His Word. As I entered into that circumstance, God gave me a Word – Psalms 107:1-2

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

After receiving that Word, God’s direction to me were to trust Him and to tell the story He was writing for me. As I spoke wiht staff members, friends, family even strangers, I did exactly that. I shared Psalms 107:1-2 with them. It was freeing and gratifying.

This past Monday, God gave me another Word to free me again (why don’t I learn) of my flawed and selfish assumptions. He reminded me of who He is and who I am to Him. The image atop this post was the impetus for the Word. It lists Isaiah 14:27 as the basis for the image. The image was nice and encouraging, but it was the Word of God that made it truly edifying. Listen to Isaiah 14:27

For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
    His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

Oh the joy and peace I experienced when I read that Word was indescribable. All I know is that I began to share it. That’s when you know you have really heard from God, met with God, experienced God; all you do is share Him or the message He gave you. Here I am again sharing it in a larger forum but not less important than the individual conversations I had with people since Monday.

In context, God was telling Israel that He had made some promises to them regarding Babylon. God, as He always does, made good on His promises. That was at the heart of my excitement was the faithfulness of God to His purposes for which His promises are attached. He has a purpose for me – to declare the praises of Him who took me out of darkness and brought me into His kingdom of light.

Nothing Can Stop God’s Plan for Your Life – Trust Him

How Did Jesus Respond When People Mistreated Him

April 21, 2015

At church, my Pastor, Robert E. Benson, Sr., has consistently been talking about suffering. He made mention to the position that some in Christendom have today – God’s people are not to suffer. He often says life is to the contrary. In fact, we can look at all the saints of the Persecuted Church to dispel the notion that believers should not and will not suffer. Today is not about suffering per se; yet fundamentally, it is.

As I walked ran on the treadmill this morning, my legs and lungs were suffering from months/years of not being used that way. While on the treadmill, I continued my reading in 1 Peter 2. Yes, suffering resurfaced, but the primary thing that stuck out to me was How Did Jesus Respond When People Mistreated Him.

Undoubtedly, feeling mistreated is an emotion that we experience weekly if not daily. From driving on the road to relating to a loved one, we are immersed in situations where we feel people have mistreated us. I know how I respond, and you know how you respond, but the question is How Did Jesus Respond When People Mistreated Him?

We find a direct answer in 1 Peter 2:21-25.

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.

I am not down playing persecution, but the reality is that we, in America, can not equate our trials to those who experience beheading, burning, raping, amputating and kidnapping. Remember, the day before Easter nearly 80 percent of Kenya’s 44 million residents remembered the death of Jesus on Good Friday, four militant Muslim gunmen stormed Garissa University College, going dorm to dorm looking for Christians. (VOM) While that is true, it is no doubt that church is under attack in America. Our spiritual freedoms are consistently being infringed, and many of us are being lulled to sleep in these attacks, but the larger issue is How Did Jesus Respond When People Mistreated Him?

If we can’t deal with people cutting us off in traffic or talking about us at work, how do we think we could deal with someone threatening to kill us or our children if we do not denounce Jesus. God wants us to focus on the day-to-day interactions with people who treat us without regard for who we are. Peter is clear from the text how we are to respond – like Christ who left us the example. Jesus was God incarnate; however, the people of the day treated Him like he was a common criminal. Imagine that the Creator subjected Himself to the created. We will never achieve the status that Jesus has, but He humbled Himself; therefore, how much more should we humble ourselves when people mistreat us.

Look at what Jesus did ““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.” Jesus made no threats. He spoke no ill words of what would happen to those who were mistreating Him. What Jesus did was to trust God. Jesus knew that He had come to suffer. Do you? Because He knew that He had come to suffer, He did not fight against it. Jesus even rebuked Peter for not accepting the fact that Christ came to suffer in order to bring redemption to man. Likewise, our suffering produces in us the character that God will use to draw people unto Himself.

How Did Jesus Respond When People Mistreated Him? Like God wanted Him to respond. How about you? How will you respond today when people mistreat you? If you call Jesus Lord and Savior, your answer should be “like Jesus, by entrusting myself, my circumstances, my hopes, my pride, my…. to God.” Just as God promised Jesus, He has promised us. John 5 says, “19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Honor Jesus in your response and Jesus will honor you.

Chosen and Precious

April 15, 2015

In the post Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God, Christ was highlighted as God’s ultimate choice. Christ was the first to be chosen by God; then, those chosen were done so because of God’s first choice. Why was Christ first? Christ was first because He was Chosen and Precious.

We all know what it means to be chosen, but what is meant by precious. Precious is defined as highly valued and/or highly esteemed. In the Greek, precious (entimos, e’n-tē-mos) means to be held in honor or prized. Christ was honored in heaven before His incarnation. He was honored because of His majesty and excellency. He was honored because Christ is God. God is is highly honored and esteemed. Angels praised Him. He was precious because He, before the creation of the world, consented to become incarnate, subjecting himself to those whom He created, to suffer death on the cross, burial and resurrection. Why? Christ did so to Redeem man.

When someone does something that means a great deal to you, that person becomes precious to us. This makes Christ even more precious because man deserved not to be redeemed. The Triune God chose to love man through Christ Jesus. Man’s sins had made himself repulsive to God, but Jesus is Chosen and Precious because of what He willingly gave Himself. 1 Peter 2 says,

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 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. 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.”

God further elevates Jesus’ preciousness. Not only is He precious to God, but He will be precious to all who trust in Him. In fact, the Word of God says, “the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Imagine that, if you put your faith, confidence and all in Jesus, you would never be put to shame. Shame implies that you experience dishonor or disgrace. In effect, not only does Jesus redeem man, but He bestows honor and grace to man. Jesus is Chosen and Precious  because of who He is.

The question is are you Chosen and Precious.  Have you surrendered your life to Christ, so He can redeem you? Have you surrendered your life, so that He can also make you Chosen and Precious. You talk about feeling special. Being Chosen by Christ and made Precious to God by Him further distinguishes Jesus as God’s first Chosen and Precious.

Will you trust in Him for salvation? Would you trust in Him for your life? The assurance that God gives us is that those who do will never be put to shame. Look at the irony – those who are shameful become Chosen and Precious. Hallelujah.

The Lord is Good

April 13, 2015

In life, there are some things that cannot stand alone. Peanut butter needs jelly. Creamed potatoes need gravy. Flowers need rain. A saddle needs a horse. An exclamation point needs excitement, but God stands alone. This is why this post will be exceedingly short today.

As I read this morning, there were a multiplicity of thoughts that entered my mind. I continued to ask God to strain my thoughts, so I could focus on the meditation for the day and what to write about. It crystallized as I reread over the passages in 1 Peter 1-2.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Lord is Good is the prominent truth that arose this morning. God being good is something that I have written about before, but I needed to renew my mind today. There is no need for a qualifier such as all the time. The essence or being of God is good. Contrary to what we may think, feel or demonstrate, The Lord is Good.

When something goes wrong, remember The Lord is Good. I thought about providing some situations from the Word that illustrate God’s goodness, but I think it is best if you look for the good in that situation. Look for God in it. He will show Himself to those who seek Him. If you have never tasted the goodness of God, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7


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