What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Out the Gospel

September 15, 2020

1 Peter 5:1-14  It has been said the Christian is a citizen of two realms – the Kingdom of God and the world. We have already mentioned many things that are to characterize our lives between when we came to Christ and when He returns. I believe a good summary of this last chapter is, “Live out the Gospel in your church and the world.” Here are some specifics in Peter’s mind.

  • Support Your Pastor – This support can come in the form of prayer, cooperation, and encouragement. Prayer can be for the sense of calling and responsibility, the spirit to stay strong, strength of endurance and positive attitude, a life that reflects Christ, and for unity and cooperation with the pastor’s leadership.
  • Walk Humbly – We are called to humility in relationship to God and each other, which comes from a Godly way of seeing self and others and leads to cooperation and service. Humility or lack of it has a lot to do with whether or not we cooperate with God’s purposes and see Him bless. This humility has everything to do with trusting and resting in God.
  • Stand Firm in the Faith – This stance is one of readiness and involves an attitude and position of resistance to the devil and his schemes, as well as camaraderie with other Christians so we are mutually supported in faithfulness.
  • Hope in God – This is victory-expectant life is available because God will step in decisively in His time and bring relief by the work of His grace.

There is an offer and call to live in the groundedness of Jesus found in His promise and power as we live in partnership with Him as a part of His people – a people with a great gift and a high purpose.



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Out the Gospel

September 08, 2020

1 Peter 5:1-14 (Reprint from June 2010)  Peter calls us, basically, to live out the Gospel in the church and in the world, and he begins his instructions by addressing pastors. However, these words imply a call to support and encourage pastors through prayer and partnership in the church. Pray for your pastor’s sense of calling and responsibility, as well as his desire to share in Jesus’ glory, as well as that his life will bear the imprint of  Jesus. You see, the word translated “example” is really the word for the imprint a tool or embosser would leave on an object. Finally, we need to pull together as a partnering team.

 

Additionally, we are called to walk humbly. This is a God-dependent life that results in humility toward each other and    toward God, a lifestyle that frees God to support instead of opposing us. Then, we are encouraged to stand firm in the faith. This is a devil-resistant life that requires readiness, awareness, and intentional resistance to the enemy that is grounded in faith in Jesus. Finally, we are encouraged to place our hope in God. This is a victory-expectant life. We are reminded that our suffering is temporary and that God will intervene and that He will shape us toward His will for us.

 

Those in Jesus have God’s offer and call to live in the  grounded-ness of Jesus found in His promise and power as we live in partnership with Him as a part of His people – a people with a great gift and a high purpose.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? –  Be a Good Steward of Jesus’ Name

September 01, 2020

1 Peter 4:12-19 (Reprint from June 2010)  When we come to Christ, our identity gets changed, and we are called to live it well. Here, Peter tells us how to live out our identity well even in times of suffering.

 

Sometimes, we are surprised when suffering comes our way. We figure being a Christian means God will keep us from difficulty. Other times, we figure suffering means God is punishing us or that we are outside of His will. It can mean these things, but it doesn’t have to. Much suffering happens simply because of sin in the world. Another cause of suffering is our own behavior.    Either our behavior directly leads to suffering, or we respond to suffering with poor choices that set more destructive patterns in motion. Additionally, some suffering is God’s discipline. Finally, some suffering comes about because    people respond poorly to the presence and work of Jesus in our lives.

 

The first part of living out our identity well is making sure “Christian” is more than a label for us. Peter references God’s glory on us when we participate in Jesus’ sufferings – suffering that comes as we work to further God’s Kingdom purposes. He also tells us to make sure we are not living in ways that deserve suffering. Some Christians suffer not because they are being Godly, but because they are jerks, sometimes even using Jesus as an excuse for their behavior.

 

The second part of being a good steward of Jesus’ name involves responding well when His name gets you treated poorly. To do this, we need to understand the refining and redeeming work of God that He can do in our lives through suffering. Not only that, but the positive, God-honoring way to get through it is to entrust ourselves to God and continue to do the right thing.   When we suffer, a good question is, “How can God’s glory and Kingdom be increased in this and my response to it?”

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Be a Good Steward of God’s Grace

August 25, 2020

1 Peter 4:7-11 (Reprint from June 2010)  Recently, we celebrated Memorial Day, and as I think about what it means to be a military person, I think about individuals who exude “military.” They have a privilege and responsibility, and they wear their identity well.  Those who are in Jesus have a new identity, and Peter calls us to wear it well – to be good stewards of the grace of God poured into our lives through Jesus. But, how do we do this?

 

First, Peter tells us, effectively, to nurture and maintain our connection with the Lord in prayer. He says that we are to be sober minded. Distraction, flippancy, and mental clutter all work against our connection with the Lord, so these things must be dealt with. Second, he tells us to love one another deeply. Occasionally, we sin against one another, and love frees us to extend grace to one another so that we can maintain unity and continue moving forward together in Jesus. Third, we are told to extend hospitality to one another without grumbling. Scholars suggest this might have been a reference to traveling missionaries in a day with very limited accommodations for travelers.   If so, the principle is that you and I need to provide for one another whatever is needed to further our effectiveness in Jesus and to do so gladly. Finally, we are told to serve one another according to our individual areas of gifting.

 

In Peter’s follow-up thoughts, we are reminded that Jesus is the source for our ability to serve and that the glory of God is to be our motivation for serving. Yet, how often do we try to serve God for selfish motives and in our own strength instead of His? As you think about these aspects of living for Jesus, is the goodness of God flowing through you to those around you in these ways?

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Under the Lordship of Jesus

August 18, 2020

1 Peter 3:18-4:6 (Reprint from June 2010)  Last week, we discovered that, when Jesus is Lord, you don’t have to get thrown by life, because confidence, stability, and consistency is found in Jesus. There is freedom to live in victory and honor God with our lives. Setting Jesus as Lord means actively keeping every aspect of life in total submission to Him – living each moment in dependence on Jesus.

 

Verses 18-22 basically tell us that God being glorified and us being well-grounded results from Jesus being Lord in our hearts, because of His redeeming victory. First, we find that Jesus’ redeeming work has everything to do with moving from the flesh to the Spirit. The suggestion here is not that we, like Jesus, are paying for sin as we suffer but that     Jesus, like us, has suffered unjustly. However, our power for life is found not in our flesh but in God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to die to sin and live by God’s Spirit. This working of Jesus’ resurrection power that made you new at salvation and that you have demonstrated through baptism is also available for daily life. The way to live in that power is through keeping   Jesus Lord in your heart.

 

This begs the question, “How do we set ourselves in a place where the Lordship of Jesus is consistently enlivening us with the power of Jesus?” We are told in chapter 4, verses 1-6. We do so by making a fundamental and continuing decision to place ourselves in a position of guardedness, living out our submission to the Lordship of Jesus even if it means suffering. We also take God’s attitude toward sinful compromise. It dishonors God and destroys us and others, and we do not need to indulge in it.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Under Jesus’ Lordship

August 11, 2020

 
1 Peter 3:13-17 (Reprint from May 2010)  In verses 8-12, we find a transition from Peter’s instructions on how to show God’s goodness in life’s settings and the means of walking in God’s favor. Then, he basically says, “If this is the way you live life, more than likely, you will get along OK, but, if not, you still don’t have to get thrown by life.”

 

What gets you off track in your well-being and spiritual walk – the threats and abuse of those who are made uncomfortable by Jesus in you, family members who undercut you and treat you poorly, the uncertainty of various life challenges, your own personality issues or a powerful area of temptation? True confidence, stability, and consistency are found in the Lordship of Jesus. Something or someone will be on the throne of your life, and Peter says here that the Christian’s call is to make sure your defining priority and reality is Jesus Christ. Jesus reigning in your heart will produce something different that will get noticed, and when you speak of Him, as you will have the opportunity to do, a gentle spirit and reverence of God is to characterize what you say.

 

So, what does it mean for Jesus to be Lord in your heart? Walk through each area of your life and look at how things would function if that area truly were surrendered to Jesus. When others look at you, what do they see – Jesus’ glory or your flesh? It should not depend on whether life is good or bad or circumstances are favorable or not. What they need to see is the glory of God demonstrated as every part of life is lived in the power of Jesus. When Jesus is Lord, there is freedom to honor God and live in victory, regardless of other people and life circumstances.

 



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?