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

Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God

April 12, 2015

Have you ever experienced something that you just wanted everybody else to experience? During the past week, I took my kids to the World of Coca-Cola. They had no idea about its previous location, but that’s another story. There were some horrible tasting flavors from around the world, but there was one that my family as well as others were asking others to taste. It was the Bibo flavor from South Africa. When we want people to try something, it is usually some type of food, electronic device, or even an emotion. If desired, the normal response after that is to secure means to obtain more of what one liked.

For man, one of the needs he has is to be loved and accepted. While compromising beliefs and values in many instances, children and adults alike go to great lengths in efforts to meet the need to be loved and accepted. As a boy, I was caught up in that rat race, that hamster on a wheel, that conquest that repeated itself like a background in a cartoon. I wanted to be loved and accepted. I looked for it in people. Like a cowboy in a rodeo, some rides were longer than the next, but I was always thrown off that bucking bull. Life was not good. Life was not pleasing. Life was not fulfilling. I did not realize that I was Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God.

I experienced man’s rejection either because he did not care or because he could not fulfill my need. The need to be loved and accepted can only be fulfilled by God who designed and created the need in us. God’s intention was for Him to only meet that need. As a consequence, those who do not know God live that cowboy’s life. Moving from one bull ride to the next. Meeting the minimum ride time only deceives him into thinking that he/she is loved as intended.

For the believers, Peter was describing the life God intended in 1 Peter 2 where he says,

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 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.

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.

Peter was telling the believers that Christ, like them, was rejected by man (human) but chosen by God. As believers, we do not fully comprehend what it means to be chosen by God. How much more honoring; how much more distinguishing; how much more esteeming is it to be loved and accepted by God. It is Christ Jesus, who came to earth on assignment from God to redeem man was Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God, so He knows how it feels to be rejected by man. He also knows the pure joy of being accepted by God. He knows too the agony of being rejected by God. When He was on the cross, He bore the sins of man which caused God to turn His face away. Fellowship, albeit not permanently, with God was broken.

Christ died for us! Why? Christ died to justify the chosen before God. Only the chosen will be justified before God through the blood of Christ (Romans 8). Moreover, Romans 7:4 tells us “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Therefore, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 1 John 5:9-11 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.Romans 15:7

Peter had just told the believers to love each other. In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” God intends for the believer to fulfill His mandate of demonstrating Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God. If you are a believer, you should yearn to have everyone experience what you have – being loved and accepted by God. If not, make Rejected by Man, but Chosen by God your focus and goal today, tomorrow and henceforth.

Crave Pure Spiritual Milk

April 11, 2015

First, Peter told the believers to Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Now, Peter is telling the believers what they are to replace those negative attributes with in their lives. We get rid of trash, but we keep things we treasure. In essence, Peter is telling us what we should treasure. Here it is the Word of God. At the end of 1 Peter 1, we are told that we are born again through the living and enduring Word of God. If we are, we will Crave Pure Spiritual Milk.

Here in 1 Peter 2, Peter begins to address the two natures of believers. As one commits himself/herself to God, the old nature of sin and death must yield to the new nature of life and peace. In order for that transformation to occur after being born again, one must commit to the Word of God. For the believer to grow and develop, there is nothing more important than the Word of God. In addition to providing insight into the battle of natures, Peter tells us how to win the battle. Listen

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. (NIV)

as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (NKJV)

Peter uses a comparison of a new-born baby (physical) with a new-born believer (spiritual). There are many things in the physical realm that mirror the spiritual. Since we are so concrete, God uses the physical many times to teach spiritual truths. Remember, God is spirit. Spirit was here before the physical. As such, we must Crave Pure Spiritual Milk.

Like an eager child or a child desiring a toy, Peter gives the image of a baby craving milk to help us understand how dependent the believer is upon the Word of God for life. A baby can’t communicate with words but with cries and reaching, the baby will let you know when he/she is hungry. The baby will wail unmercifully until his cry for milk is satisfied. When was the last time that we exhibited such behavior to read, hear, study, memorize and meditate on the Word of God.

Make no mistake about it, the Word of God to the believer is as essential as milk to a growing baby. Milk is the lifeline and nutrient base from which growth happens. It is by the Word of God that we grow up in our salvation; therefore, Crave Pure Spiritual Milk. If we want to grow in our salvation, we must equip our spirit with the Word of God to help us in the fight that occurs between the flesh and the spirit. Paul gave us all the foundation to support this conflict. In Romans 8, he 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.” In Galatians 5:17, “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.” Every believer will experience the conflict between the flesh and the spirit.

Though every child of God must in all ages have been experimentally acquainted with the inward conflict between flesh and spirit, nature and grace; and though authors innumerable have written on such subjects as sanctification, the trial of faith, the strength of grace, the power of sin, the deceitfulness of the heart, the commencement and progress, decline and restoration, of the life of God in the soul, yet how few even of these really spiritual and experimental writers have laid out the truth of the case as made known in the Scriptures, and felt in the experience of the saints! How blind have many gracious writers, as, for instance, Dr. Owen, and most of the Puritan authors, been to the distinctness of flesh and spirit! In fact, as it seems to us, many good men have been afraid of the real, actual truth. Our Puritan ancestors especially, living in a day when profanity and ungodliness ran down the streets like water, and holiness, therefore, of heart and life was powerfully urged as the distinctive feature of the children of God, intuitively shrank from anything that seemed in its faintest coloring opposed to their view of gospel sanctification. They feared to believe, and dreaded to proclaim, that “the carnal mind is enmity against God; that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed could be.” They seemed to think, if they once admitted that the flesh, the carnal mind, underwent no spiritual change; in other words, could not be sanctified; it was opening a wide and open door to the worst Antinomianism. [J.C. Philpot]

If one who confesses Christ does not experience such conflict between the flesh and the spirit, may be he is not a believer. This is the last point that Peter makes when he says, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (NKJV) The proposition is that if you have experienced salvation then there will be certain evidences in your life. If one has no desire for the Word of God, it may be that they have never really true tasted Christ. As a baby craves milk, we all crave that which is filling and satisfying for us. The Word of God is filling and satisfying to the spirit of man. God intended for His Word to meet this need in our lives. Sure there are other things that meet spiritual needs but there is only one thing that causes us to be like Christ, Crave Pure Spiritual Milk.

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

April 10, 2015

We don’t like trash. To validate that assertion, there is disposal equipment and services all around us. For example, there is a trash can in almost every room of my house. In school, there are trash cans in every classroom and along the halls. In arenas, parks, stadiums and the like, trash cans abound. We all are acutely aware when something has served its purpose and no longer has value to us. That’s when we rid ourselves of those things.

Likewise in a spiritual sense, there are things that no longer have value to us, so we must rid ourselves of them. The problem is that we fluctuate between knowing when something has no value and trying to hold on to. This is where we find Peter reminding the believers to rid themselves of things that has no value to them as believers. They are trash, but we often treasure that trash.

1 Peter 2:1

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (NIV)
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, (NKJV)

The therefore is there because Peter had conveyed to the believers since they had been born again they were to have a sincere and deep love for one another from the heart. They were born again of not of perishable seed, but of imperishable. More importantly, Peter conveyed to the believers that it was through the living and enduring word of God that they were saved.

In view of the attributes of God’s grace and the enduring Word of God that brought salvation, honor God by obeying the Word where Peter says, “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” Based on the statement, man has some responsibility in renewing his mind and transforming his character to that of Christ Jesus. Whether one rids or lays aside, it is an action one takes by the power of God to bring about a different response to people and life’s circumstances.

What are the attributes we are to rid ourselves or to lay aside? First, we are told in 1 Peter 1:22 that believers are to have a sincere and deep love for one another. The admonition here addresses behavior that are in sharp contrast to loving one another. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” Each succeeding one springs out of that which immediately precedes, so as to form a genealogy of the sins against love. Out of malice springs guile; out of guile, hypocrises (pretending to be what we are not, and not showing what we really are; the opposite of “love unfeigned,” and “without dissimulation”); out of hypocrisies, envies of those to whom we think ourselves obliged to play the hypocrite; out of envies, evil-speaking, malicious, envious detraction of others. Guile is the permanent disposition; hypocrisies the acts flowing from it. The guileless knows no envy. Compare 1Pe 2:2, “sincere,” Greek,guileless.” “Malice delights in another’s hurt; envy pines at another’s good; guile imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy (flattery) imparts duplicity to the tongue; evil-speakings wound the character of another” [AUGUSTINE].

Matthew Henry defines those ridding attributes in the following manner:

all malice – may be taken more generally for all sorts of wickedness, as Jam. 1:21; 1 Co. 5:8. But, in a more confined sense, malice is anger resting in the bosom of fools, settled overgrown anger, retained till it inflames a man to design mischief, to do mischief, or delight in any mischief that befals another.

all deceit – or guile – So it comprehends flattery, falsehood, and delusion, which is a crafty imposing upon another’s ignorance or weakness, to his damage.

hypocrisy – The word being plural comprehends all sorts of hypocrisies. In matters of religion hypocrisy is counterfeit piety. In civil conversation hypocrisy is counterfeit friendship, which is much practised by those who give high compliments, which they do not believe, make promises which they never intend to perform, or pretend friendship when mischief lies in their hearts.

envy – every thing that may be called envy, which is a grieving at the good and welfare of another, at their abilities, prosperity, fame, or successful labours.

slander of every kind – which is detraction, speaking against another, or defaming him; it is rendered backbiting, 2 Co. 12:20; Rom. 1:30.

Considering the list of things to rid ourselves, we have a lot of work to do. If not all, we are quick to employ one of those attributes when relating to people especially to fellow believers. For me, all are issues, but malice which is based in deep-rooted anger is my paramount issue. I have been plagued with dealing with anger all my life. it is only through Christ that it has not totally ruined me at this point; however, it remains my primary adversary. At every turn, I have to fight anger especially as it relates to the ones I love the most or things done that I abhor. I am not wise or refined enough in my character to not sin in my anger. Consequently, I have to confess to God, when I am alert enough, that I am anger. Then, I have to wait to be released from my anger as I confess.

Are you still treasuring trash? God sent Christ that we might be free. Being bound or entangled by those attributes enslaves us again to sin. This is why Peter encourages us to rid ourselves of those things. I am not sure about you, but I still have a lot of work to do before it can be said I you have totally rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Why and How You Must be Born Again

April 8, 2015

In life, there are things you know and things you don’t know. As a small boy, I loved bologna. I liked it more than ham, chicken, hamburger, and bacon. I used to say how much I loved bologna, but I did not know about steak; I did not know about shrimp; I did not know about ribs. When I had my first steak, I was hooked. I loved it. Instantly, it became my favorite meat even shrimp and ribs did not dethrone steak. Then I found there were different cuts of steak – round, flank, flat-iron, sirloin, rib eye, porterhouse, filet mignon and t-bone which is my favorite of all. Imagine a boy loving bologna more than a prime cut of steak.  How in the world could that have happened? Simple, I did not know about steak. It was only until I had been exposed to steak that I could contrast it with bologna.

Similarly as a boy, I did not know Why and How You Must be Born Again. I really did not know about how to live life. I only knew that I was not fulfilled. Sure, there were things that satisfied me, but like an empty stomach after a filling meal, satisfaction did not last. It was always a pursuit of one of those satisfying things. For me, that seamed meaningless, purposeless and futile. Like with the steak, I did not know what was better. In biblical terms, Nicodemus was like me. He knew that something was better, but he had not been exposed to what was best. Consequently, he asked Jesus. In John 3, Nicodemus came to Jesus for answers. Let’s listen in

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

As Jesus points out, Nicodemus, even though he was a teacher of their scriptures, did not know about the deep spiritual truths. He too needed to know Why and How You Must be Born Again. Like a loving parent, Jesus told Nicodemus how to be born again. He said, “14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

As a disciple, Peter knew Why and How You Must be Born Again. He was engaged God’s elect or pilgrims in he provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. For those who had born again, Peter told them how they had been born again.

1 Peter 1

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

Peter says, ” 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Every one who will be born again will come to be through the living and enduring word of God.

Nicodemus and I both had Jesus to engage us in becoming born again. Have you heard Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, ask you are you born again. Please know that Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” You must surrender yourself to Jesus if you want to be born again. His Word, the bible, will lead you to eternal life. If you do not want to be condemned, you must learn and apply the Why and How You Must be Born Again.

It Is Finished.

April 6, 2015

Okay, this post came straight from church yesterday. Pastor Benson, through the Holy Spirit, gets the credit for this one. As you know, yesterday was the celebration of Easter. There were two things that were shared that might, if I let it, revolutionize my life through my thinking. After all, the Word says to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Let’s be transformed.

It is Finished has always been the banner of Easter with his burial and Resurrection as they highlights of the account of God redeeming man; however yesterday, I saw the finish before those words were uttered. Read John 19 below to acquaint yourself with the text. We know the God is always the main character, but pay close attention to the supporting characters.

30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

It is Finished typically focuses on Jesus’ death and the benefits bestowed to believers as it should; however today, I want to look at what God did to set up the events after Jesus died. I will not take the time to identify the prophecies that God was fulfilling through the account listed here, but we should note that John identifies prophecy that was fulfilled when he wrote “36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” The point of that is to verify the truth of what happened with Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection as well as His impending and imminent return.

There were many characters listed in the account above, but I want to focus on Joseph and Nicodemus in their role for It is Finished. It was submitted by Pastor Benson that the only way that Jesus’ body could have been requested and granted was by people of “high”-class or stature which Joseph and Nicodemus were. We know that both Joseph and Nicodemus were secret believers in Jesus but believers nonetheless. Joseph was rich and a prominent council member. Nicodemus was also was a member of the Jewish ruling council. Because of the amount of spices Nicodemus provided for Jesus’ burial, we know he was not hurting for money either.

To accomplish It is Finished, we have to change our mindset. We often think God is here for us, but it really is the other way around. We are here for God. Let us consider what we are told in Acts 17.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

God marked out the time and place for Joseph and Nicodemus. God had given them prominence, position and placed for His purpose not theirs. We often miss the boat on this. I have prayed that God would bless me with positions for my family. While not bad, it is not the best. God wants us to be consumed with what is best not what is good. What seems good is often the enemy of what is best. Remember, Peter did not think it was good that Jesus suffer and die, but Jesus rebuked him for being the enemy of what was best. From Judas to Jesus, It is Finished could not have been accomplished had God not put people in place to accomplish His will.

Joseph and Nicodemus were put in place, so God could accomplish His will just as He had foretold it. On the surface, it appears that Jesus was placed in Joseph’s tomb as a matter of convenience. “Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Jesus was placed in the tomb because God chose the time and place for Joseph to serve in completing His will.

From Judas to Jesus, It is Finished could not have been accomplished had God not put people in place to accomplish His will. Did you know that not only did God create each one of us, but He put us in this world in these times and in a particular place of His choosing? None of this is by chance or error. We may not be happy about God’s choice of timing or place. God loves us and has a plan for each of us which He wants to work out in our life. For this to happen we need to allow God to be in control, to surrender our lives and futures to him. To pick up ourselves, family, life and possessions and go somewhere else may be contrary to God’s plan for us. On the other hand, it’s possible that His plan may be to send us to another place. He moves His people from place to place all the time so that His purposes may be achieved. However, it’s God’s prerogative to take the initiative, not ours. When we are in God’s will, His hand is upon us. When we move out of His will, we become targets for the enemy. Rather than being unhappy or even fearful about where we are and casting around for other options, perhaps we should be praying: “Father, You have placed me here at this time. How do You want to use me? How can I be available to You so that You can work out Your purposes in this place at this time in my life?” (from seeds)

At the appointed time, God will say It is Finished about our lives. The question will be whether we spent it accepting His purposes and plan or trying to seek our own. Life is so much more freeing when we recognize that God has not only chosen the time and place for us to live, but He also has put people in place for us to accomplish His will in our lives just as He did for Jesus. We should glory in that.

Prayer: Father, it’s not a mistake that I am living in insecure times in a place that’s difficult and sometimes frightening. Please help me draw my security from You and not from the place where I live. Show me how I can be Your instrument of peace and healing here and now, how I can shine with Your love and joy and how I can share the good news of who You are with those around me. Amen.


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