Monday, June 30, 2014

Russia's Treaty

We had always been taught that when Russia signed a treaty with Israel the Anti-Christ would appear within the next three years.  I think it was in the late 90’s when a friend called me to report that she had just heard on the radio that such a treaty had just been signed, I fell on my knees in fear.  

“God I have not prayed enough.  I have not done enough for you.  I am not ready for you.”  The Holy Spirit reminded me that we are not saved by our works, but by the blood of Jesus.  What an amazing relief swept over me.

I no longer look for his coming in fear, but in hope of the revelation of Jesus Christ and of the brethren (Romans 8:15-17; 1 John 2:28; 1 Peter 1:5)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whom You Have Not Seen

“…might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:7-8)

I have not seen Jesus, but I have sensed his presence.  I call out to him when I am emotionally distraught, and he comforts me.  I pray to the Father and he keeps me walking in his ways.  The Holy Spirit comforts my soul when I have lost hope.  I have experienced God’s forgiveness and the strength of his grace.  

We receive eternal life now.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Choose Today

If it seems too difficult or impossible to increase your faith that is because it is too difficult and impossible.  In one since we cannot increase our own faith, God has to do.  In another since we do increase our own faith.

God increases it  during difficult situations by his power (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 1:7).  We increase it by making the decision to trust God to keep us from the enemy of our soul and to use whatever circumstance we are in to bring glory to himself and ultimately to us when Christ returns (John 17:15-17; Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:3)

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:17)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Peter writes that our faith is much more valuable than gold (1 Peter 1:.7).  It is easier for me to write that my faith is more valuable than gold, but when I loose my income, my faith is spelt tried.  When someone I love is taken away from me unexpectedly, I have to cling to God to keep my faith.  When someone I love is in unrelenting pain, my faith gets a severe beating.

Someone defined faith as “Forever I Trust Him”.

“Faith is where the rubber meets the road.”

(In America, the phrase “where the rubber meets the road” means you have to have good tires to get where you are going. In other words, whatever the subject of the saying (in our case faith) it better be strong enough to get you where you need to be)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mistakes Happen

In an unusually strong wind, trees are uprooted, crushing everything that happens to be in the path of their fall.  The tree is not strong enough to withstand the pressure of the storm.  On the other hand if the a wind of the same intensity blows across a forest often, most of the trees will remain firmly rooted in the ground.  The reason is the tree has been trained from a sapling to withstand such pressure.

The same holds true for our faith.  The winds of testing and trials produce in us strong faith.    We develop a habit of turning to God for help.  We make decisions based on our knowledge that God loves us and will not abandon us.  We know that even if we make a decision that does not bring about what we extended that God does not reject us, punish us, or forsake us.  

God will use our very errors to bring us to himself and to glorify Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Monday, June 23, 2014


There were things that were kept a mystery from the beginning of creation, until the last days before Christ's return.  Peter refers to one of these mysteries in verse 4-5.  "Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

Before Christ, the only communication between God and the individual was based on animal sacrifices as a picture of the holiness of God and of our need for forgiveness.   But Jesus came with the new message and the end of animal sacrifice.  "The Spirit of Truth... you know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17).

We understand more about salvation than the people in the Old Testament knew, but we shall understand even more when we reach heaven (1John 3:1-3).

Friday, June 20, 2014

His Kids

If my faith solely depended on me, I would definitely be lost.  I have made seriously debilitating mistakes that resulted in people being emotionally harmed.  I always thought my intentions were honorable, and on a deep level they were.  But through the painful outcomes I have also learned how self focused my decisions were, to the point that my adult children suffer from pain I unwittingly brought into their lives when they were young. 

Unless God sustained my belief in his existence, I would have given up years ago.  But God has amazing grace and forgiveness for me as he does for you.  He gives me the ability to face my errors and do something about them.  He gives me strength to do what needs to be done when I do not feel like I have the strength to do it.  And he keeps me believing in him when life’s outcomes would surely take away my faith.

We are his kids “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lost or Stolen

My grandmother was coming to visit my house for the very first time. We had a piece of plywood across a folding table that served as a dining room table.  I was embarrassed to have her see that, so we bought a new table and chairs.  That table now has a black stain on one end, scratches and bald spots on the other, and there is wood glue seeping out of the legs of the chairs where we tried to keep them together

Years ago I had bought a peridot ring to wear on my little finger.  I liked the black design on the sides of the ring that made it look antique.  When my ring needed repair, a loving relative told me about a good jeweler.  As a surprise to me, she secretly paid for a more expensive stone to replace the cheaper one I had purchased.  But the new stone changed the entire look of the ring and the black design had been removed.  I eventually lost the ring when i took off my winter gloves.  I never saw it again.

We all experience losses, but the greatest losses in this life are the death of someone we love, the death of a marriage, or the loss of health.  When our hearts are breaking, we long for stability, something that lasts forever.  If we have put our trust in Jesus, we have an inheritance waiting for us that will never fade way, be lost, stolen or become corrupted (1 Peter 1: 4).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trinity and Salvation

The second verse of Peter also reveals the doctrine of the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Using the titles “God the…” we do not mean there are three Gods, but that God manifests himself to us as three persons.  Each title or personal revelation of God as Father, Son or Holy Spirit demonstrates one or more attributes of God.

For example in Peter’s letter the phrase God the Father reveals that God caused us to be born (Gen 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16); he disciples us as a father with his children (Hebrews 12:5-29) and loves us as his own child (Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 2:28-3:5).

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30).

The Son paid for our redemption (1 Peter 1:2; Galatians 3:15; Revelation 5:9).

Read Hebrew 9:13-14

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Address Is

The New American Standard version and the English Standard version place the word elect at the beginning of Peter’s first sentence.  This puts the emphasis of foreknowledge and anointing on being an chosen exile. “Elect exile…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”.  

The King James version places the word elect just before the phrase foreknowledge of God the Father, thus connecting the foreknowledge of God the Father with the status of election (being chosen as his) rather than on the persecution of the believers.  “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).  

In either case, God has specifically chosen individuals for his glory.  How wonderful to know that God knows you by name; he knows your address; he knows your habits; he knows where you are this very second (Psalm 139; Isaiah 45:3-4a 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Peter's Letters

We turn to Peter’s letters to believers. Historians believe Peter wrote his first letter around 60 AD  He is writing to believers who are suffering persecution because of their beliefs.  He is reminding them  that those who follow Christ will be persecuted, but that it is temporary.  One day Christ will take each of us home to be with him.  There no one will be able to touch us. 

His greeting alone encourages the believers heart, telling them that God knew before hand that they specifically were going to be persecuted.  In fact, God actually ordained it.  “Those that were elect exiles…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2). 

The knowledge that God ordained that we should suffer persecution, and has sanctified us with his Spirit for the task we face brings a sense of peace.  The greater the persecution, the greater his grace he gives us to be victorious.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Spirit Gives Life

Though some have experienced suffering in their bodies all their lives, others become increasingly aware of their physical frailty as they age. Our bodies will eventually cease to function, but our spirit (who we are) lives forever (John 5:28-29).  

So Paul closes his letter to Philemon by saying, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Philemon 1:25). Jesus said,“It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).  

When we finally grasp this truth, that our bodies are temporary, but our spirits are eternal, we begin to focus on God’s words to us rather on this world (2 Corinthians 4:16;  Ephesians 4:23)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yes or No

Paul tells Philemon, “Prepare a room for me, because I have hope through your prayers that I will come to see you” (Philemon 1: 22).  

We prepare for God’s positive answer to our prayer, but we accept his negative answer if that is his will (Mathew 26:29; Philemon 1:22; Acts 12:6-17).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Prison or Free

Epaphras seems to be in prison with Paul, while Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, apparently are free to come and go (Philemon 1:23-24).  It was dangerous to be associated with someone in prison as you were considered of like character and under suspicion.  

The writer of Hebrews refers to this when he writes, “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised" (Hebrew 10:34-36).

Persecution against Christians is increasing in America, but there are believers in other countries who are loosing their lives because of the gospel.  In either case, we need to remember we are on a journey through a foreign country.  Heaven is our home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rotten or Ripe Fruit

When Paul writes that he is confident in his friend’s obedience, I do not think he is only referring to Philemon’s obedience to Paul’s instruction, because Paul had just said he wanted his friend to accept the runaway slave out of his own heart rather than Paul commanding him (Philemon 1:21-22).

Paul’s reference to obedience is the obedience to Christ’s command to forgive as we have been forgiven (Mathew 6:15, 18:22-35).

Before jumping to conclusions about what forgiveness means look at both scripture references above.   In Mathew, the servant that asked for forgiveness had to face the consequences of his actions because he did not show fruit of true repentance.  The servant in Philemon showed signs of repentance by returning to his master even though he did not know what the outcome would be.

Forgiveness and grace is offered, but wiping out of the debt is only done when the fruit of repentance is manifest (Mathew 3:7).

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Want Something

I, Paul, write this with my own hand:I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ our
Lord” (Philemon 1:19-20).
I find Paul’s words to Philemon interesting, “Yes brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord”.  Paul evidently led Philemon to Christ, or perhaps Paul’s influence in government had benefited Philemon in the days before Paul became a Christ follower. Either way, he is reminding his friend that his friend owed him a great deal.

But notice, Paul is not requesting for himself, but is pleading on behalf of another.  Paul is even willing to pay Onesimus’ debt.  Paul is not manipulating as much as he is reasoning with a fellow believer.

Sometimes we believers can react to situations without taking the time to seek spiritual understanding.  When we do this we open ourselves up to personal pain in destructive consequences. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Facing Consequences

When Christ changes us, he changes our relationships.  Some people become dearer, while others drift away.  Philemon and Onesimus were about to find this out.

We have talked about Philemon, but what about Onesimus?  Returning as a runaway slave could not have been easy.  Onesimus had tasted freedom.  He could come and go as he pleased.  He bought things, visited whomever he wished, and whenever he wished.  Now he was about to return to obedience and possible punishment.

Paul could empathize because he was in prison for preaching Christ, but he could not control the outcome.  Onesimus was returning out of obedience to his Savior.  It was up to Philemon whether Onesimus’ repentance would be accepted or if he would inflict revenge.  But the newly reborn slave had to obey God regardless of the consequences.  His relationship with God was worth it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Eagle's Eye View

It was nearly 40 years ago, while driving down the street, when God gave me a vivid vision in my mind’s eye of an Eagle’s eye view of my situation.  My husband had left me to be with another woman.  The surprise and pain felt unbearable while I was attempting to raise three small children by myself.  But is that moment, when my spirit soared in the heavens with God’s perspective, an unimaginable joy filled my heart.

I could see the sun shinning above the storm clods far beneath.  The land lay in patches of shaded greens, the rivers in turquoise, blues and treys.  My soul knew God was dealing with my enemies to call them to repent, and He was lifting me up to make me more like Jesus.

Philemon had experienced the frustration and anger of a trusted slave running away and taking something of value with him.  Undoubtedly  Philemon was angry.  But what he did not understand was that God was about to change him and his servant.  Philemon was about to learn more about God (Philemon 1:15-20)

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Subordinate's Decision

Many believers think we should never use a strong hand in getting people to do what is right.  Perhaps that is true, because actions forced are rarely long lasting.  But it is interesting to note how Paul reminds Philemon that he (Paul) has the authority over Philemon to command him to take back the runaway servant, Onesimus (Philemon 1:8-10). But Paul says he rather plead with Philemon than command him.

If we tell someone under our authority that a particular decision is up to them, but that we would prefer one action over another, then we must be ready to accept the subordinates decision even if it goes against what we wanted him or her to decide.