Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Consuming Fire

There are times when we are required to make decisions which have the potential of separating us from the ones we love. When we are faced with choices that conflict with the principles laid out in God’s word, we have no real choice but to obey God. We grieve our losses (1 Peter 1:6).

God can use painful breaks in relationships to try our faith. Though scientists now use chemicals to purify gold, the impurities used to be removed by heating the gold until it became liquid.

Trials that press hard against the tenderness of our hearts push out the impurities in our attitudes, leaving behind a purer faith and a deeper trust in God.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Water Spiders

There is a spider that lives underwater all its life. Dubbed the water spider, this arachnid uses silk to form an air bubble. The bell shaped air tank diffuses oxygen from the water and allows carbon dioxide to escape out of the bubble. The spider is safely able to eat, mate and care for its young in a world that is life threatening. .

We also have a protective shield around us in a world that daily threatens our spiritual life ( 1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:4).

Friday, June 26, 2009

What If I Sin in Heaven?

Once we know the Lord and have tasted of the sweet flavor of his presence, we do not want to go back to the empty life of pursuing the impossible. But the difficulties of life, the uncertainties, the temptations of self gratification sometimes feel overwhelming and a nagging fear begins to haunt our thoughts. “What if when we get to heaven we sin?”

Here is the great news. We won’t.

How do we know?

The Holy Spirit said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us …to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”

The word incorruptible means it cannot be corrupted it. Therefore your inheritance waiting in heaven for you cannot be corrupted. Never again do you have to fear sinning after you are welcomed into heaven.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Great Mystery

Life would be so much easier if we knew ahead of time what was going to happen and why it was necessary. At least that is what we tell ourselves. But have you ever said to someone, “If I had known this was going to happen, I don’t think I could have survived?”

God keeps secrets for a reason. There is a perfect time for us to know something and he will not reveal it to us a moment sooner than is healthy for us.

He kept the mystery of the full understanding of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection from the men who prophesied his coming. Their word was not for their benefit but for ours. Even the angels were fascinated and were anxious to see what God was doing on the earth.

Though we often live a mysterious life, we are an intricate part of what God is accomplishing (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unscrupulous Recruiters

On June 18, 2009 National Public Radio gave an update on a young man, Burhan Hassan, age 17 who a year ago suddenly disappeared after his high school graduation. He was last seen on a flight to Somalia. After nearly a year of searching, family members found him. He had been recruited into a terrorist group. After long discussions with his father, the boy agreed to come home. Days before his flight back to the U.S. he was murdered by one shot to the head. Authorities speculated the terrorist group was responsible. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105572589)

The US & World website reported on November 28, 2008 that Minneapolis Minnesota is a recruiting center for Al-Qaeda (http://wcco.com). December 4. 2008 Fox News Website headlines read “Jihad Recruiting Effort May Explain Missing Somalis In Minneapolis Area (www.foxnews.com).

These young men and women are often intelligent, kind and family oriented individuals. Yet recruiters are able to convince them to fight in what they present as a holy war. The young people soon are willing to give their very lives to these unscrupulous men’s indoctrination.

Though these stories strike terror in our hearts, there is even a greater enemy, who was in the process of destroying our lives. Satan used lies and bribery to convince us to forsake the truth. But Jesus came to take the blinders off our eyes and to expose the false teaching of this world.

He has given us an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,” which is reserved in heaven for {us}. (1 Peter 1:4).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Word Treadmills

Some of us second guess ourselves habitually. We cannot answer a question without examining our answer at multiple levels. After we walk away from a conversation, we can become obsessed with what we should or shouldn’t have said.

The analytical framework is naturally carried into our relationships with God. We can become exhausted with our attempts to figure out the correct prayer, the right actions or the healthiest attitude.

If you are one who runs in circles trying to please everyone, including God, Peter’s words are for you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope…” (1 Peter 1:3)

God has abundant mercy. He has all the mercy you need and more, so you can stop worrying about whether you say the right words to him. He knows exactly what you mean.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spiritual Surgery

A loving mother will stand in a hallway of a hospital or sit in the waiting room while the doctor performs surgery on her child. She cannot bear to watch the incision in the skin or see the blood ooze out of the wound. Every nerve screams with the instinct to stop the procedure, pulling the knife away from the surgeon and running out the door with her child.

But she doesn’t.

Instead, she waits and prays, longing for her child to be safely restored into her arms.

So it is when God is performing spiritual surgery on our child.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wrong Turns

Yesterday, as I passed a gas station on my way to work, I made an instant decision to pull in and fill my tank. Without thinking, I made a right turn from the left hand lane.

As I turned off the key in the ignition, the realization of what I had done took my breath away. Not only had I broken the law by crossing two lanes of traffic, I could have endangered someone else’s life. Visions of a car hitting head on into the passenger side door left me stunned.

Unfortunately we make those kinds of mistakes in our relationship with people far too often. We violate the rights of others for our own convenience. Words pour out of our mouth without thinking of the emotional wounds we are inflicting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Living Hope

Life is always changing. Americans move on an average of every 5 years. Even if we continue to live in the same area our surroundings are continually changing. Friendships change. Jobs change. We change.

Because we live in a constant state of change, God has provided us with a living hope. That means each new circumstance brings us a new perspective of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 1:3).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Gifts to All Believers

Most of the letters written by the apostles repeat the words, “Grace to you and peace” (1 Peter 1:2). In Peter’s letter his prayer is that grace and peace be multiplied.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor which includes strength, wisdom, insight, righteousness and innumerable spiritual gifts. Peace is the calm in our spirits in the midst of troubles, storms, trials and temptations.

Paul wrote, “Where sin abounds grace does much more abound” (Romans 5:20). We need grace and peace multiplied to us as we daily face new challenges.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking Advantage of a Promise

We get to know a person through their words and actions. In the laughter and sorrow, in the promises and fulfillments, in the loyalty and honesty of relationships, we become intimate. The same holds true in our relationship with God.

There is a reason you have a desire burning in your heart to know God. He is calling you (1 Peter 1:2).

Jesus told the Hebrew believers, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” He told his disciples “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

God has promised to reveal himself to you. Take advantage of the promise and seek him today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Royal Invitation

There is an old song, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” It is about learning the likes and dislikes of anther person. It is loving them from the onset and enjoying finding out their habits and idiosyncrasies. It denotes enjoying who they are.

This is the kind of invitation given to us by God the Father. Peter whispers this truth in his opening lines. Jehovah God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has called us the elect. We are special to him.

God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you: before you were born I sanctified you: I ordained you…” (Jeremiah 1:5).

God said “"And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:9).

God knew you before you were born and he invites you to a journey of discovering who he is.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Peter Begins with a Great Truth

Look at Peter’s introductory words when he calls believers, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).

His opening lines tell us that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God knew us before we were born and knew how we would respond. He therefore elected us to be his children. The Holy Spirit set us apart to be obedient to God and to be sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus paved the way for me and for you as individuals.

We have no merit that he should choose us. We have no righteousness that he should choose us. But we have both because he chose us.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introducing Peter

Today we begin to look at the two books Peter wrote. They are open letters to believers, the first to “the pilgrims of Dispersion" and the second to “those who have obtained like precious faith.”

Peter was always zealous for God. He was the one who jumped out of the boat into the water to come to Jesus. He was the one who, in aspirations of protecting Jesus, told his master that he would not have to die. He was the one to cut off the servant’s ear in the garden when the officials came with soldiers to arrest Jesus. He was also the one to deny knowing Jesus.

But after the resurrection we see a change in Peter. His weakness disappeared. He followed the savior closely to the point of being a prisoner and finally dying a martyr’s death.

His life and death draw attention to his words.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Glass Houses

Fear God and keep his commandments…for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The book of Ecclesiastes ends with this admonition. Solomon chose to experience the outcome of following his flesh to prove whether God’s words were true (Ecclesiastes 1:13) and suffered for it. Many people have made similar choices, believing at some level that the law of reaping and sowing will not apply to them.

God has told us numerous times in his word that our actions will be judged, both here and at the final judgment (Galatians 6:8-9; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Romans 2:4-11; 14:10-11; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Jesus said those things done in secret will be shouted from the mountain tops (Mathew 4:22; 10:25; Luke 12:3).

We are wise to base our behaviors as though we are living in a glass house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Snares for the Young

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

A tremendous amount of trouble and heart ache can be avoided by remembering our Creator while we are young. A wise young man or woman will follow the corrective principles found in the word instead of his or her hormones.

Youth has a way of thinking “It won’t happen to me.” They are invincible, all knowledgeable, powerful, and wise, (in their own eyes). Satan knows this about them and will set many snares in an attempt to destroy their potential ministry. But a young people who take every precaution to protect themselves from disobedience to God will avoid many pitfalls (Psalm 119:9).

The great news for those who have fallen into one of Satan’s pits is that God is still able to rescue them (Psalm 91:15). God is able to turn their mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11-12)

Monday, June 8, 2009

God Gives and Takes Away

All of God’s works are mysterious. We love the acts of God which bring us joy, but we find it extremely difficult to understand when we experience deep sorrow. Too often we are quick to attribute painful events to man’s freewill choice, Satan’s attack on our lives or random acts that cannot be explained.

Yet God said “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well being proceed?” (Lamentations 3:38). “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). “…and I am God; Even from eternity I am He; and there is none who can deliver out of my hand, I act and who can reverse it?”(Isaiah 43:12-13).

The Holy Spirit reminds us; “As you do not know what is the way of the wind. Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Version of a Hitchcock Movie

“Do not curse the king, even in your thought; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).

This verse may be fodder for a new version of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. In this film all free speech is squelched for fear of birds relaying people's discontent to those in authority with dire consequences.

The author uses humor to get his point across that what we hide in our hearts comes out our mouth often to our own consternation. Jesus taught it is wise to keep a pure heart (Luke 6:45)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Open Mouth Insert Foot

Open Mouth Insert Foot

We all have a natural instinct to protect ourselves. None of us enjoy being embarrassed, snubbed or ignored. We like to be taken seriously.

Our self protection can lead to gossip, putting others down or boasting to make ourselves look better than the next guy. Our self preservation can lead to babbling off unimportant facts, exaggerations or oaths to raise our esteem in the sight of others.

The author of Ecclesiastes put it this way, “A fool also multiplies words” Ecclesiastes 10:14.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Charmed Serpents

“A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; the babbler is no different”
Ecclesiastes 10:11

When we have a habit of allowing ourselves to fun off at the mouth, we are creating a world of trouble for ourselves. We do not need to express every thought that comes into our heads. Here are some biblical guidelines for picking and choosing our words.

If the words edifies the hearer (Proverbs 15:23)
If the words are timely (Proverbs 15:23)
If the words are pure (Proverbs 15:26)
If the words are pleasant (Proverbs 16:24)
If the words bring peace (Romans 14:19)
If the words bring comfort (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
if the words bring grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29)

In the multitude of dreams and words there is much pride (Ecclesiastes 5:7)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Sharp Axe

I can remember the first time it dawned on me to use a dry cloth to wipe away flour before using a damp one to wash the counter. I remember because my mother commented on it as a sign that I was maturing and thinking ahead.

All of life is filled with opportunities to use wisdom. Sharp scissors are much easier to work with than dull ones. When clearing the table it is smart to take several items at once to save steps. When driving a car it is important to check the oil when filling up with gas. When using a lawn mower it is essential to turn off the engine before clearing the blades of any object.

As we practice these small acts of wisdom, we are rehearsing how to respond in the more complicated issues of life (Ecclesiastes 10:9-10)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Morning Smile

He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent Ecclesiastes 10:8

Our creative writing teacher in high school loved to tell stories. He was a man well advanced into his 70s and so had memories of drawing water from streams, hunting in the woods and the absence of modern conveniences.

In his young adult years, the traditional joke for Halloween was for Tricker Treaters to move the outhouses back so when the house owners got up in the night to relieve themselves, they would fall into the hole. However, when the neighborhood goblins came to pay his outhouse a visit in the dark, they received their own surprise.

While it was still daylight, our teacher had situated the outhouse behind the hole.