Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I Peter Chapter 4
- Christ suffered physical pain. For us. Horrible pain beyond our comprehension... And because He willingly undertook to bear the pain for a greater purpose, for OUR greater purpose... so we should arm ourselves with the same attitude of service and humility and true, from the heart, love... and be ready to suffer for Him in return.
- footnote- “Suffering helps us be like Christ, yet people will do anything to avoid pain. Followers of Christ, however, should be willing and prepared to do God's will and to suffer for it if necessary. We can overcome sin when we focus on Christ and what He wants us to do. Pain and danger reveal our true values. Anyone who suffers for doing good and still faithfully obeys in spite of suffering has made a clean break with sin.”
- In other words, if we're more worried about pleasing God than we are about what other people think, or about the pain that is coming because of Christ, then we won't be tempted to sin by denying Christ, or to sin in general... if we are willing to die for the cause of Christ... what is to tempt us away from that kind of passionate love?
- Instead of spending our lives chasing after our own desires, we will be so concerned with the will of God that it will overtake our lives to the core... In other words... you will be sold out completely.
- Galatians 2:17-21
- Colossians 3:1-17
- Romans 6:1-14
- So what does being sold out entail? We have spent at least part of our lives chasing after the evil things of the world... immorality, lust, feasting, drunkenness, wild parties, idol worship. In some way, fashion, or form, we have all acted on one or more of the above... maybe not constantly and maybe not to a massive extent... but they're all there... lurking somewhere deep in the depths of our buried memories...
- And to go from being who you were before... to who you are now that Christ has taken hold of your life... wow. Peter says that former friends are surprised that you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things with them...
- footnote- “People whose lives change radically at conversation may experience contempt from old friends. They may be scorned not only because they refuse to participate in certain activities but also because their priorities have changed and they are now heading in the opposite direction. Their lives incriminate their friends' sinful activities. Mature Christians should help new believers resist such pressures of opposition by helping them to be faithful to Christ, surrounding them as new friends, and encouraging them to develop new habits and activities that are not only enjoyable but positive for their spiritual growth.”
- It's not for us to worry about the reactions of our friends to our faith whether it be a new found faith or a familiar one... One day we will all have to face God. He will judge us all. The living and the dead. There will be no excuse at that moment... And it won't depend on someone else's opinion of us... it will depend on our relationship with the Almighty God.
- That's why when Christ died, He even went and preached the gospel to those who were already dead.
Although they were already dead, they too now live forever with God in the Spirit.
- footnote- “Many people in the early church had concerns about life after death. In Thessalonica, Christians worried that loved ones who died before Christ's return might never see Christ. Peter's readers needed to be reminded that the dead (both the faithful and their oppressors) would be judged. The judgment will be perfectly fair, he pointed out, because even the dead have heard the Good News. The Good News was first announced when Jesus Christ preached on the earth, but it has been operating since before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and it affects all people, the dead as well as the living.
- I Thessalonians 4:13-18
- Romans 13:11-14
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Peter wrote that the end of the world was coming soon... two thousand years ago... So was Peter wrong? Not really...
- The bible says that no man knows the day or the hour that Christ is coming back... not even the angels know for they are waiting expectantly for the event... Only God knows when He'll make His return appearance. So therefore, we should be earnest and disciplined in our prayers. We need to keep up our relationship with God because who knows when He'll come back! The parable of the 10 virgins illustrates people not being ready when the bridegroom comes for his bride.
- Relationships take time. If we don't take the time to stay focused on our God or to keep up our friendship with Him, or to keep up relationship with Him... we're not going to be ready when He returns. Our lamps will be out of oil and our lives will be dark.
- Most importantly, we can't let ourselves forget our purpose. We are to show deep love for each other.
- Peter says that “love covers a multitude of sins.” In one way I think this means that love is blind. If we love one another, it's harder to see each other's faults and it's easier to work with them... On the other, God's love is the reason that our sins ARE covered. Had He not had the greatest love, He wouldn't have been able to die for us. Our love for each other allows us to make sacrifices for each other, allows us to serve one another, as God always intended us to.
- So share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. Offer your services for a food bank or a homeless shelter. Provide financial support to those who need it or to organizations that will help when you can't volunteer your time.
- Regardless of how you choose to serve, Peter reminds us that we are all gifted in different ways. Yet again the idea of the body is presented. All the parts doing different things, but working together for one purpose.
- Romans 12:6-21
- Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as if God Himself were speaking through you.
- Do you have the gift of helping others? Then serve with all your heart.
- Serve with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.
- footnote- “Our abilities should be faithfully used in serving other; none are for our own exclusive enjoyment. Some people, well aware of their abilities, believe that they have the right to use their abilities as they please. Others feel that they have no special talents at all. Peter addresses both groups in these verses. Everyone has some gifts; find yours and use them. Peter mentions speaking and serving. Paul lists these and other abilities in Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12:8-11, and Ephesians 4:11. Even as you seek to discover your gifts, if you see a need in the church , seek to meet it. You may find gifts in areas you might not have guessed!”
- Peter says not to be surprised at the fiery trials we're going through. It's not something out of the ordinary for us... Be glad instead! Why? Because these trials make us partners with Christ in His suffering. We will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.
- In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus says that “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
- Later in Matthew 10:16-25, Jesus says that He is “sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel. Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!”
- If we are following our Master, our Teacher... then we are going to be just as ridiculed and persecuted as He was! Maybe even worse! It is something that kind of comes with the territory of this faith... It's not something that we get to skip over. It's inevitable. Someone at some point in time is going to disagree with you and your beliefs and they're going to make life difficult because of it...
- But Jesus later in Matthew 10 says that “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”
- If we hold strong and live for Christ despite everything that comes against us, we will have a reward awaiting us. If we however, deny that we believe in Him... He will in turn deny us before the Father on judgment day.
- And so Peter says to be happy when we are insulted for being a Christian. Why? Because it means you are reflecting the Master. You are following the Teacher. You are revealing Christ to a lost and dark world.
- Romans 8:15-25
- John 15:18-27, 16:1-4
- II Thessalonians 3:6-15
- So if we suffer, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. Because this does not show Christ. This shows our evil, human nature. It shows an evil influence in our lives. And this should be a shameful thing. It should be things that we feel guilty about.
- However, to suffer for being a Christian is no shame. Praise God instead! For we will be called by His Name! Is that not a blessing?
- footnote- “It is not shameful to suffer for being a Christian,. When Peter and John were persecuted for preaching the Good News, they rejoiced because such persecution was a mark of God's approval of their work (Acts 5:41). Don't seek out suffering, and don't try to avoid it. Instead, keep on doing what is right whether or not it brings suffering.”
- II Corinthians 1:3-11
- Peter says the time has come for judgment and that it must begin in God's household. What???? Why????
- footnote- “This refers not to final judgment but God's refining discipline (Hebrews 12:7). God often allows believers to sin and then experience the consequences. He does this for several reasons:
1. To show us our potential for sinning.
2. To encourage us to turn from sin and more constantly depend on Him.
3. To prepare us to face other, even stronger temptations in the future.
4. And to help us stay faithful and keep on trusting Him.
If believers need earthly discipline (judgment) from God, how much more will unbelievers receive it? If the righteous are barely saved (only because of God's mercy), what chance have those who reject Christ?”
- vs. 18 is taken from Proverbs 11:31. If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to the godless sinners? If we barely maintain our salvation and barely make it to heaven, what's gonna happen to the sinners who don't have even that hope to cling to? Judgment comes to all men... just a question of what kind of judgment you deserve...
- So if you are suffering for doing what is right... in a manner that is pleasing to God... keep doing right and trust your lives to the God who created you. HE will never fail you.
- footnote- “Everywhere the Bible counsels that we trust God—in good times and bad, during sunny skies and thunderclouds, when we have a pocket full of change and a pocket full of sawdust. How does trust work?
1. Trust overcomes fear. Genuine trust in God says, “whatever mess I'm in, my heavenly Father will lead me.”
2. Trust overcomes depression. No matter how overwhelming the situation or how low it makes you feel, God can draw you back to the light.
3. Trust overcomes hate. When careless or cruel people hurt you, sometimes irreparably, you can hate forever or you can trust God, but you can't do both. God is there to steady even the worst situation—always with a promise, always with hope. Commit your life to him for safekeeping. Rely on him when you face your worst circumstances.”
- II Thessalonians 1:7-12