What do I do in the Meantime? – Fulfill God’s Purpose and Your Function

August 04, 2020

 1 Peter 3:1-12 (Reprint from May 2010)  Peter has dealt with the settings of society at large, work, and suffering, and he now turns to the home.

 

  • In vv. 1-6, he talks about the witness of a Godly wife in a marriage in which a saved wife has an un-saved husband. Peter’s instruction is to stop nagging him and respectfully put herself at his disposal in a partnering kind of way – showing the goodness of Jesus. The word “submit” in our Bibles is better rendered in terms of cooperative partnering and filling one’s responsibility. What a witness to show the graciousness and goodness of Jesus instead of the pushiness of the flesh in a marriage, even if both parties are in Christ.

 

  • In v. 7, Peter turns his attention to husbands, as he tells them to live a life of respectful care for their wives. A husband is un-Godly if he sees his wife as existing for his selfish desires and does not partner with her in encouragement and provision and care. Peter even says that if he is not treating her well, God turns a deaf ear to his prayers.

 

  • In vv. 8-12, the focus broadens to every life context. We are called to harmony, love, sympathy, and humility in relationship the social order, work, suffering, the church, and the home. We are called to refrain from evil / retaliation and return a blessing in the social order, work, suffering, family, church, all relationships. God’s hand can be with you or against you, and there is a formula for blessing. Walk through these verses. This is not a formula for getting saved – that happens in Jesus. But, it is a formula for staying in a position where God can bless you.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live as a Devoted Part of God’s People

July 21, 2020

1 Peter 2:1-12 (Reprint from May 2010)  Peter calls those in Christ aliens (foreigners) and strangers in the world. Our identity has been changed in Jesus, and we don’t fit the world’s ways anymore, so we’re called to live as a devoted part of God’s people. This involves four things in this passage.

  • Continual spiritual growth (vv. 1-3) – It’s possible to have been a Christian for many years and still be a spiritual infant – still dominated by the flesh. Spiritual growth requires a decisive break with sin and a hunger for the Word. The trouble comes when we decide to quit growing, quit feeding on God’s Word, or lose our taste for the Lord.
  • Being a “coming to Jesus” kind of person (vv. 4-8) – This means continually drawing close to Him, depending on Him for your life in God and being filled with God. We get into trouble when we let attitudes, sin, or other things distance us from Jesus.
  • Fulfilling our new identity and purpose (vv. 9-10) – In Jesus, we are in a new relationship to God, to the world, and to others so that we are set apart for God and have a new reason for living – making God’s greatness known. Problems come when we lose sight of our call and purpose.
  • A struggle that affects how the world sees God (vv. 11-12) – Victory requires us to remember our new identity and purpose, agree with God about sin, and choose to put it out of our lives. It is impossible to show God’s greatness while we are approving sin by how we live.

When others see your life, do they come away saying, “Wow, God is amazing, and I need Jesus?”



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live in Jesus’ Holiness

July 14, 2020

 

1 Peter 1:13-25 (Reprint from April 2010 updated)  Between when we get saved and when we go home to the Lord, how do our lives show God our gratitude for life in Jesus and help others know how great God is? One way is to live in Jesus’ holiness.

 

  • In vv. 13-16, we find this requires some firm decisions. First, we must prepare our minds and pursue the things of God in sober, stable-mindedness. Second, we must deal with destructive desires, choosing what God wants over anything un-Godly. Third, we must be devoted to the holiness of God in our lives.

 

  • In vv. 17-21, we discover holiness requires us to relate to the world differently in light of who God is and the fact that Jesus has bought us out of the world’s futility and corruption with His precious blood. As strangers to the world, we are no longer to share the world’s values or get our identity from it, but rather live as God’s holy people. Jesus frees us share in God’s goodness and invite others into that life instead of joining them in what is futile and destructive.

 

  • In vv. 22-25, we find this holiness expressing itself as love for each other in Jesus. The two words for love are different. He says basically, “Now that you have gotten right and are fond of one another in a friendship way, now love each other in God’s selfless way that really looks out for each other’s best interest. (ref. Kenneth Wuest)

 

What do you do in the meantime? Decidedly take on the  distinctive holiness of God relative to the world around you and the family of Christ.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Praise the Lord!

July 07, 2020

1 Peter 1:1-12 (Reprint from April 2010)  We are in-between the cross of Jesus and His return. Those of us in Christ are in-between the day we came to Him and the day we stand before Him in glory. So, what does your in-between time look like? And, what do we do in the meantime? – Praise the Lord!

 

Those in Christ can praise the Lord because your identity transcends your circumstances. No matter where you are and what things are like, the work of God’s salvation sets you apart into a place where you can receive God’s grace and peace. Those in Christ can also praise the Lord because you have a great gift from God. This gift of heavenly inheritance was made available through God’s mercy and Jesus’ resurrection. It gives us confidence in an inheritance that will find completion someday and one that is beyond the reach of  corruption.

 

But there is more. Those in Christ can praise the Lord because you have a different way of looking at situations. The Christians Peter wrote to were rejoicing and loving Jesus because they were already receiving the goal of their faith – not just waiting for heaven someday. Where are you looking for joy and fulfillment? Is your focus on what is temporary or what is eternal?  Finally, those of us in Christ can praise the Lord because we are part of God’s plan that was the heartbeat of the prophets, is the blessing of the saints, and is the envy of the angels.

 

In each of our lives, our circumstances tend to dictate our well-being, and the reality of distraction steals our awareness of the inheritance we have in Jesus and the blessing of salvation today.  Will you ask the Lord to correct your perspective and allow you to rejoice in what Jesus is doing in you?

 



My God and My Country

June 30, 2020

Matthew 22:15-21  This weekend, we celebrate our nation’s independence. So, I want to address our dual citizenship as Christians (Kingdom and country) and how we to relate to God and country.

Rendering to God and to Country as Appropriate – When I think about relating properly to God, I think about worship, devotion, single-minded allegiance, dependence, obedience, adoration, gratitude, and praise. Look at the first three commandments. When we look at the country through the lens of Scripture, we discover civil structures are instruments of God for His purpose but can become instruments of Satan. We find the Christian called to be a good citizen so long as that does not require disobedience to or denial of God in Christ. We find Christians called to demonstrate a sanctified life so people see God’s glory and the Gospel.

Watching out for Civil Religion – Civil religion is a nation-wide way of speaking of God that is generic enough to include most people and serves a unifying purpose. Examples include “In God we trust” on money; “one nation under God” in our pledge; saying “God bless America” in with no genuineness of devotion to God or surrender to God that would allow Him to bless. Examples include Psalm 23 and Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at police and firefighter funerals regardless of the faith and lifestyle of the fallen and wanting prayer before athletic events when half-time shows, conduct in the stands, and actions after the game do not honor the Lord. What happens is that God becomes meaningless in our lives and society.

The best service can give our country is to make sure we keep God in His exclusive place of worship and keep our country in its place under that. The best service we can give in our country is to be genuine followers of Jesus who confess His name and seek His Kingdom. In these tumultuous days, pray earnestly for Christians to walk in wisdom and faithfulness to be the salt and light our country needs. Also pray for those governing, as Scripture tells us.

 



Partnering with God and Each Other When Kingdom Concern Results in Kingdom Investment

June 30, 2020

Philippians 4:10-23 (Reprint from November 2010)   Verse 10 calls us to think about how concerned we are about God’s purposes. When you look at your life, to what extent is God’s purpose the defining factor, and how concerned are you that others know Jesus?

 

In Paul’s testimony of contentment, we find freedom from circumstances being able to dictate our well-being. When life is all about partnering with God in Jesus then our life has a consistent foundation. How much of your life is surrendered to Christ’s purpose and the pursuit of Him? In v. 13, we find Jesus infusing with strength as we partner with God, not to change the circumstances, but to make us sufficient.

 

As we go further, we see Kingdom investment resulting from the Philippians’ Kingdom concern. They had a desire to share in God’s work. Notice that, as they did, the material sharing in God’s work counted in eternal matters and was an act of worship. People like to claim v. 19 for our lives, but often, they really mean wants, or they think they can claim this verse without putting God first and partnering with Him. They want to live to themselves and ask for God’s help and favor, instead of living for God and trusting Him.

 

Our walk through Philippians has been all about cooperating with God and each other to grow in Jesus and help other know Him. Ask what God is doing and wanting and then get in on that in all areas of life and church. When life’s all about partnering with God and others in Jesus, there’s contentment in life and blessing from God.

 



Partnering with God and Each Other – In One Defining Pursuit

June 17, 2020

Philippians 3:12-21 (Reprint from October 2010)  I want you to think about pursuits that dictate every aspect of a person’s life. Do you have any defining pursuits? In the preceding verses, Paul basically wrote, “I had religious accomplishments, but then I met Jesus, and now I want Jesus and His resurrection power flowing through me.” We are invited to let Jesus be our defining pursuit.

 

  • In vv. 12-14, we discover the nature of this pursuit. First, it requires Godly humility that sounds like, “There is more of Jesus’ fullness to gain, and I have not arrived.” Second, it requires Godly forgetfulness – not being crippled by the past Jesus has forgiven, nor prideful over past achievements. Third, it requires Godly persistence as we are grasped by and ongoing, intentional, life-directing focusing effort to grasp Jesus.

 

  • In vv. 15-17, we are invited to make sure we are in this growing pursuit – realizing how important it is, making sure we live like we have the relationship with Jesus we have attained already (not regressing), and looking to Godly examples that will encourage us.

 

  • In vv. 18-21, Paul highlights two directions that people find themselves heading in and two different destinations for those pursuits. First, we are reminded that those who have their lives dictated by their own desires are working against Jesus and are headed for destruction. Then, we are reminded that those in Christ have the power of Jesus available for the pursuit and are headed for God’s glory.

 

Things like routine, strain, busyness, distraction, pride, and satisfaction in things that are not of God dampen our passion and sidetrack our pursuit. How completely are you pursuing Jesus in all of life? Will you let Jesus be your defining pursuit?

 



Parterning with God and Each Other – To Fulfill Our Potential (Reprint from September 2020)

May 26, 2020

Philippians 2:12-30  In these verses, we are called to partner with God to flesh out our salvation. Salvation is not only a point in time when you place your faith in Jesus, but it is also an ongoing process of growing into Jesus’ likeness. The power for this growth comes from God, but we have to allow Him to work in us.

 

In Christ, we have a purpose and potential, to show God’s glory in our lives and church. Moving toward that potential       involves growing in a way that there is an ever-increasing contrast between us and the people of the world who do not know Christ. The words in these verses refer to things like being un-alloyed with impurities, being an acceptable sacrifice, etc. When we allow ourselves to be less than Christ-like, showing the same error as the lost world (actions and attitudes that   demonstrate impurity and open us to blame) we fail to appear in contrast in the night sky of hurt and depravity around us. You know, once in a great while, I fly somewhere, and I really like flying at night when the lights of the cities shine out in the darkness – like diamonds spread out on black velvet. When we repent of all that contradicts the heart of God and decidedly partner with Him to let Him shape our desires and lives, we glorify Him and show Jesus to the world. They get exposed to the message of Jesus through us. If you have slacked off, would you take the salvation process of your growth in Jesus seriously once again and re-engage actively so God’s good purpose is fulfilled in you and our church?

 



Partnering with God and Each Other Surrendered to God and Serving Each Other (Reprint from September 2010)

May 19, 2020

 

Philippians 2:1-11  What would it look like if we were constantly cooperating with God and each other to accomplish the work of Jesus? This kind of partnership happens as we surrender to God and serve each other.

 

Surrendered service has everything to do with life in Jesus. Paul starts off reminding us of the blessings of being in Jesus. Not only that, but partnering with God and each other is about more than our individual walk with Christ. There is a call for common thought, love, and spirit. Beyond this, partnering with God and each other means taking care of each other. This happens as we overcoming self-centered pride with other-centered humility. It also happens as we get beyond and outside of self. Sometimes, we do not care for each other not simply because of pride but simply because we are so wrapped up in self. Finally, partnering with God and each other involves taking on the attitude of Jesus. Jesus, in His coming here to show us God and God-intended humanity, had an attitude of willing partnership with God the Father, the same attitude we are called to. He also had an attitude of humble obedience. And, he trusted God the Father and was rewarded. We are called to the same.

 

The most basic part of cooperating with God is surrender to the   Lordship of Jesus. Then, as we experience the life of Jesus, our call is to place God’s work in and for others as a higher priority than our own concerns and cooperate to see God’s hand move in others’ lives.

 



Partnering With God and Each Other in Difficult Circumstances (Reprinted from September 2010)

May 13, 2020

Philippians 1:12-30  Not one of us is a stranger to difficult circumstances, but in Paul’s testimony and encouragement here, we hear a call to partner with God and each other in the work of Jesus even in the discouragement and distraction of hard times.

 

As we listen to vv. 12-18a, we basically are asked how our    partnership with God in His work is going. We discover that, wherever we are is our ministry opportunity, and just like Paul could have gotten thrown off by his imprisonment, we can either be thrown off by our  circumstances or can continue faithfully to cooperate in God’s work. Jesus must be our focus.

 

As we continue through vv. 18b-26, we find a three-way partnership between Paul’s God-honoring desire, the interceding prayers of God’s people, and the empowering Holy Spirit.  Also, Paul was so centered on Jesus that he could say that for him, to live was Christ. Now that’s being full of Jesus! Finally, Paul’s faithfulness and God’s glory were not dependent on God changing the circumstances.

 

In vv. 27-30, we are reminded to always live weighty enough lives to be equal to our new identity and calling in Jesus. We also are called to stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith. The picture is that of a crewing team rowing in perfect unison. When we are together like this, it alleviates the fear that might be cause by those who try to oppose God’s work in and through us.

 

Partnering with God in the work of Jesus in single-minded devotion was the source of Paul’s joy, the center of Paul’s focus, and the goal of Paul’s work. I believe it is to be ours also.