Thursday, August 6, 2009

1 Peter: Lesson Seven

"But why do you judge your brother?
Or why do you show contempt
for your brother?
For we shall all stand before the judgment
seat of Christ. For it is written:

As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,

And every tongue shall
confess to God."

Romans 14:10-11


Let's begin with prayer.......

"Father God, our Lord and Savior, please speak to us through Your word. Please convict us of sin and make us holy as You are holy.

I seek forgiveness of my sins. I pray, Lord, that You will wash me clean of all my iniquities...even the hidden secret sins of my heart. Search me, purge me, and make me whole again so that I can serve You this day. Help me to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

I lift up to you each person reading this post. I pray, Lord, that You will lift them up and encourage them through Your word. I pray that You will set their feet on the path of righteousness for Your name's sake. In Jesus' name, amen."


Living Before God Our Father

In our last lesson, we studied how Peter encouraged early Christians to be sober and vigilant and to rest their hope fully on the "grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" instead of resting on the things of this world. We learned that we are to live be holy because God is holy.

In this lesson, we will look further into what it means to live before a holy God.....

1 Peter 1:17-19

"And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by traditions of your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."


As Christians,
sometimes we live our lives as though we have escaped judgment because we have been saved from the wrath of God. But we are told time and time again in Scripture that we will be judged....not for our sins, which have already been forgiven, but for our works.

"And if you call upon the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's works..."

Please read:

Acts 10:34-35

Peter begins his sermon to fellow believers by explaining to them that God no longer shows any partiality. That, with Christ, all who fear Him and are obedient to Him can approach Him and be accepted because of the most excellent works of Christ.

Peter's vision helped him to see that God accepts Gentiles as well as Jews when it comes to the gospel message.

But that doesn't mean we are "off the hook" so to speak. There are works for us to do while we are here on given to us by God.

Romans 14:10-12
1 Cor 3:12-15

Our works must be built on God's foundation and not our own. Our works will be tested...and if they pass the test we will be rewarded.

1 Cor 9:24-25

We run a race for the prize..but not a temporary perishable prize like a crown of olive leaves, or a medal made of gold or silver. NO! We run the race for an eternal "imperishable crown" that we can place at the feet of our Savior.


"Conduct yourselves throughout your stay here with fear..."

Peter reminds us that we are to remain in fear of the Lord. Everything we do and say will be brought before us for judgment. Peter says to live in this fear of God...what does that mean exactly??

Peter presents God as both Father and Judge over all. He encourages us never to forget this. To do our work in the fear of the Lord...reverence and respect:

Ps 34:8-11


"...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers....."

Because we are not of the finite things of this earth. We are not here to fear men and their religious traditions like some organized religions teach today. Attending church, praying at an altar, confessing to priests, lighting candles, vowing oaths, sacrificing to animals, etc. mean nothing to God because these are all corruptible and temporary.

Jesus came to end all this and show us The Way to God: through Him.

"...but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot."

Ex 12:5-11

Peter is wise to remind his readers of the Passover event....a most important feast in the Jewish religion. He reminds them that Jesus was the last Passover lamb given as a sacrifice to God once and for all.

Heb 9: 26-28

So, to wrap up Peter's lesson for his fellow believers.....we are here for a purpose. Not a purpose of men, because then it would be flawed. But a purpose of God: to do His works in fear of Him because of the works of Christ Jesus.

This is how we are to live before a holy God. In reverence and respect the fear and admonition of the Lord. Do your good works with this in mind. Everything you do or do not do will be judged before a holy God.


Life Application

Judging others is a sin I struggle with all the time. I was brought up in a very critical home where both my parents criticized others daily. So, as an adult, it is hard for me to break that old habit of talking about others and judging them.

One way the Lord breaks me of this is to bring me to my knees from time to time in fear. He also has a way of just stopping me in my tracks by letting me see a glimpse of what another person has gone through in their life.

While in Slovakia, one of my teammates stood up to give a partial testimony to some of the Slovakian women at a Bible study. I had been critical of this lady before this moment because she was different than I am. How dare she! I know, I know, how dare I be so shallow. Anyway, after she told us of her horrible childhood experience with parents who were mentally ill, I felt so ashamed of my thoughts against her. I had no idea she had survived so much! I began to see her in an entirely different way.

Later on, I had a chance to give my testimony and afterward was told that my words had a great affect on the women. My fellow teammates were astonished that I had been through so much in my life as well.

You see? You just never know about someone's past and it is better to stop judging a fellow believer and see them the way Jesus sees them: with love and as His child.

I have learned not to be so darn critical of others and stop judging them so much because after
all, we do not know their story. We have no idea what it is the Lord has brought them through!

Take time today to meditate on all you have learned today from God's word. He greatly used Peter to edify and encourage us in our Christian walk. Thank the Lord for giving us the book of 1 Peter.


"The consideration of our redemption ought to be a constant and powerful inducement to holiness, and the fear of God. God expects that a Christian should live answerable to what he knows. Neither silver nor gold, nor any of the corruptible things of this world, can redeem so much as one soul."

-Matthew Henry (Commentaries, pg. 1941, 1961)


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1 Peter: Lesson Six

"And do not be conformed
to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that
you may prove what
is that good and acceptable
and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2


Let us begin with prayer....

Lord, I pray and ask You to remind us today what it means to serve You. I pray that You will speak to us through Your word this day and set our hearts right.

Please forgive me of my sins and cleanse me with Your precious blood. I pray that You will wash me and put in me a clean pure heart like Yours. Teach me to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

I pray for each person reading this lesson. I pray that Your words will lift them up and give them strength to get through each day. I pray that You will speak to their hearts and deal with them by renewing their minds in Christ Jesus.

In Jesus' name.....amen."


Living Before God Our Father

In our last lesson, Peter told us of how the prophets of old searched diligently, as a miner dug deep into the rock for the ore he sought, for the meaning of the salvation of our souls. He told us of how even the angels are so desiring to know of this salvation.

We were reminded of how the prophets wrote their messages for us...future believers...that we would know of the grace that would come to us.

Today we will look into what it means to be a Christian...saved by before a holy and just God whom the prophets spoke of in the Scriptures.

1 Peter 1:13-16 "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written,"Be holy, for I am holy."

Fasten Your Belts!

Peter is telling believers that there is work to be done...and we need to be sober and vigilant in our work!

When I prepared to leave on my mission trip to Slovakia, I was in the word everyday and praying diligently everyday. But yet I was still unprepared for the spiritual attacks that hit me from all sides!

I had been warned by friends who had experienced the same thing, and yet I was not ready for the attacks. I knew the Lord was allowing Satan to attack me and that gave me comfort to know that the Lord thought I was ready to handle it. But yet it still hurt!

One thing I know for certain is this: the Lord never left me during any of those attacks from the devil. HE was always there when I called out to Him or searched for Him in the Bible.

Peter wants us to remember that grace that saved us and the grace that will be "brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" so we are not despondent. No! Never! Peter wants us to remember that hope that is within us.

Please read:
Romans 5: 1-5 Matt 5:11-12 James 1:3

Hope does not disappoint! I know that for sure! I have put that verse to the test for meaning and it passed that test with flying colors, as we like to say.

I was attacked financially, spiritually, emotionally, and even endured my marriage being attacked. The only thing the Lord spared was my health....blessedly! I was shocked at the intensity of the attacks on all facets of my heart, but not surprised with how merciful the Lord was when I passed those tests and made it to Slovakia with the others.

I was sober and vigilant in that I knew the attacks were coming....but even then I was shocked at the hurt. Just imagine what the early Christians had to endure with the enemy in the world!

1 Peter 1:8-9

Peter's words of encouragement must have meant the world to those early believers.


"as obedient children..."

Peter wants us to remember who we were before Christ saved our souls...but he doesn't want us to dwell on it. He doesn't want us to remember the "former lusts" that held us captive to the bondage of sin.

Instead, we are to be as obedient children of God who are now transformed through the renewing of our minds by the word of God.

That means our conduct must mirror His.

Matt 4:1-11
Jesus survived Satan's attacks through the word of God. He used Scripture to fight off the attacks of the devil!

Hebrews 4:12 Eph 6:16

Jesus was prepared to do the works of the Father who sent Him because He was getting His strength from above. He girded His loins and prepared for battle!
Matt 9:35-38

But He did it with love and compassion...for He was God in the flesh.


Life Application

"Be holy, for I am holy."

Complete holiness should be the desire of all Christians. To be like Christ is the final vision for us all. Jesus came to leave us an example to follow. The apostles left us an example to follow as well: suffering for Christ.

Peter reminds us that our whole conduct must be pleasing to God in order to be used by God. I went through a period of "cleansing" during those spiritual attacks before my trip. I tried to see it that way even though I was almost broken. I read the Scriptures, cried out to fellow believers to lift me up in prayer, fasted and prayed all in preparation for the mission.

And I reaped the rewards from the Lord for all that I had endured. He took care of me and all of the team while were were away. I had deep dreaded fears that the students wouldn't like me, but the Lord calmed my fears and gave me wonderful children who made me smile daily.

I know now what it takes to serve the Lord: die to the flesh and live for Christ.

Peter wants us to know and understand this point, that serving the Lord isn't easy. It could cost us our lives or the lives of those we love.

But we were left with a perfect example of that perfect obedience and will of God in Christ Jesus when He walked this earth. We must be holy as God is holy. We must imitate Him though we will never equal Him. Just considering how holy God is should bring us to our knees in praise and worship.

We were taken to a very beautiful mountain range in Slovakia for a day of rest and recuperation. As I stood on that mountain top and watched the clouds part and reveal the sun, I began to worship the Living God of all creation. I knew He was giving me a gift for serving Him. It was not money or material wealth...fame or, it was a most precious gift He knew I wanted and needed to see: His beautiful creation.

You see, God is an artist and from one artist to the other....He knew I needed to see beauty all around me. I saw the Master Artist show me one of His many masterpieces that day! I cherished it as I stood there on that cool mountaintop. I thanked Him for that gift. It made all the suffering of spiritual warfare worth it all just to be that close to Him if only for a few moments.

We serve a holy God who loves us and knows us personally. We serve an awesome God!

Take time out today to praise Him and worship where you are.


"It is a great favor to be called effectually by divine grace into the possession of all the blessings of the new covenant; and great favors are strong obligations; they enable as well as oblige to be holy." -Matthew Henry (Commentaries, 1961, p. 1941)