Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday slowdown

Praise be to God the Father, and to Jesus His Son!

Let us sing in the midst of our trials..... sing because of His great salvation!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Getting out of the miry clay!

I don't know about you, but I want to make sure that I have joy. I want to be able to sing in spite of the fact that I'm mired down in trials.
If we will "look up" out of the pit, and look at our Savior, we will have joy. Peter reminded us of our salvation first for a reason, I think.
He wants us to know the reason for our rejoicing in the suffering. He says that our inexpressible joy is from realizing that we have that salvation -- even though we have not seen Him, as the apostles did. They saw Him. They walked with Him. They listened to Him. In the flesh. In person.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:8-9)
Remember we said that God is in control? He never leaves us for a vacation or a sick day... Grab those promises from His Word:
God has said,“Never will I leave you;    never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Our love for Jesus, in response to His love on the cross, is our highest motivation. But sometimes do we drift a bit? Like a married couple that has been together for many years, do we need to rekindle our love for our Savior? It may be the same in our relationship with the Lord...
We can rekindle that love by spending time with Him. Make time to read His Word. Don't be rushed in our prayer time, but listen for His leading.
Once we know His leading, we need to obey. Jesus told us:
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)
Then, remember His sacrifice for us. If you are a member of a local congregation, join in the remembrance of His last supper with the disciples. He told us to do this in "remembrance" of Him. It's a tangible way to take the time to receive the blessing of His love, and tell Him of our love for Him.

Surely, if we do these things, we will sing in the mire, and have joy in our trials!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Singing - not in the bathtub, but in the mire

That title got ya, huh? (Grin)
Do you ever sing in the tub? Or the shower? Kinda fun, isn't it? And it's hard to be sad when you're singing....
When we left our studies last time, Paul and Silas were in prison -- they'd been beaten for witnessing about Jesus, and then left in a musty, filthy prison for the night.....and they were singing!

David sang, too, to the Lord, and not just when he was rejoicing. He sang when he was blue; I kinda think that with the Lord helping him, and the songs too, that soon he was singing and rejoicing. Even in the muck and the mire.

And those are good examples for all of us. Are we in the midst of trials? Are we suffering with stress? Are we distressed because we are being ridiculed or reviled for our faith? Here is our focus passage again:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:6-9)
We're examining this concept of rejoicing in our trials.... let's look at the "why" because sometimes even veteran believers look around and whisper, "Why me, Lord?"

Stop the presses.
The Savior takes everyone that He loves through trials.
Wait, if He loves me, why does He do that?
That's our human side talking, no?
Let's look at some verses that should be very precious to us....
Remember this one about our Lord?
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Later in Hebrews, it talks about us:
"because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (Hebrews 12:6-7)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (I Peter 4:12)
No one is exempt....while we are here as travelers, there are going to be trials, and even persecution for the sake of our Lord. But there are untold blessings, as well. Remember what Jesus told us in John 10? He gives us a truly abundant life. Many times, instead of stacks of gold coins, the abundance is the deep, peaceful joy that we feel, even in the miry clay -- the joy of our salvation.

But we haven't fully answered that plaintive question -- "why?"
In verse seven, Paul says that it's so our faith can be tested and refined; all the impurities will be removed, so that the final product (like the refined gold) is stronger. We can't be saved without faith. We can't buy it with gold. That is why Peter says faith is more precious than gold. Only our faith in Jesus will make the difference when we stand before God the Father.
God doesn't test our faith in order to make us fail. He does it in order for us to succeed. When we go through trials, we have to trust Him in ways that we never would, if all were sunshine and rainbows!

Peter gives us another clue about trials and the testing of our faith: it's temporary! He says "for a little while." And even though we may have been stressed about an issue for years, in the comparison with eternity, those years are just "a little while."
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)
So, if in the midst of our pain (which we don't cover up or deny) we can keep our focus on two facts, we can have joy -- these trials strengthen our faith, and they are just temporary; salvation is for eternity!
One more thing can help us sing while in the miry clay: all of these trials are under God's control. He hasn't forgotten us. He hasn't gone on vacation. He hasn't even drowsed off to sleep. He knows what we are dealing with, and He has a plan to help us through.
...according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  (Ephesians 1:11b)
We'll finish up this study tomorrow -- hope you will join us!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Prayer requests

This week for our prayer time, I'd like to remind us all of some words in Acts....

First, let me ask a question:

 Are you ever persecuted for your faith?

Is there an attempt by Satan to stop you from being a witness?

Are you ridiculed when you speak a word for the Lord?

Worse, are you told that you must not speak up for Him?

There are very few times and places where it is OK for others to ask us not to speak of Him, or share our testimony. Very few.
But today, people are emboldened by the pervasive world-view that says, "Christians shouldn't speak up! They are second-class citizens, too!"

I'd like to encourage all of us to take the time to pray, and ask God for brave faith, and the wisdom to use it effectively.

Yes, we need to witness for Him. People need to hear of His love and mercy. And we need to have discernment of where and when to speak.

Are you at work? Give 110% of yourself during the time you are on the's on breaks and after work that you can witness to your friends and acquaintances. This is biblical. And it's that 110% that will be a good "silent witness" since many people today do not try to work hard or be reliable. But the New Testament says that is important for us believers!

If we slack off, and don't work during work hours, we are not being honest, and we're cheating our employer.
For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. (II Corinthians 8:21)
This is just one example of witnessing in today's world. We'll discuss others as we can....

I hope that if you have a prayer request, you will leave a comment and let us pray with you!

Monday, August 14, 2017

In the miry clay

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:2-3a)
I'm wondering if Peter was thinking of this Psalm as he wrote the next verses we will study, from I Peter:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:6-9)

The Psalmist and the apostle Peter were both thinking of the same things . . . . and I'm afraid we kind of confuse things nowadays. Let's see if we can figure out what is biblical!

We mentioned before that Christians are "all over the place" when it comes to how we think about, or respond to, suffering. Trials are common, but believers have many different responses to them!

First, we have Faithful Frances, who maintains that no one suffers unless they lack faith. We should claim healing by faith, and deny all negative thoughts. Only positive thoughts allowed.
Well, Frances, I hate to say it, but this is not biblical.....

Then there is Smiling Samantha. She says that yes, Christians must go through suffering, but they must keep a great, big smile on their faces. They are always "comforting" seriously stressed-out folks by chirping, "Rejoice everything give thanks!" (I Thessalonians 5) Or, skipping up and saying, "Well you know....all things work together for good!" (Romans 8)  Seeing a grieving spouse after a funeral, Smiling Samantha grabs their hand and says merrily, "Well, they're in glory now!"

Oy vey. Yes, they are, but that may not be what that suffering believer needs right now. In fact, Smiling Samantha's approach can lead to folks being seen as hypocritical. It can even add up into emotional's just phony. We can't deny pain. We can't shovel grief under the rug. I don't think this is biblical, either, and it is definitely not the best for our health.

At the other end of the pendulum from Samantha is Venting Victoria. Vickie says that we need to express how we feel..... to work through all the stages of emotions. We should vent our anger; we should let out the rage; just let the bitterness pour out.  Don't feel like doing that? Vickie puts on her wanna-be-psychiatrist hat and says, "You're in denial, honey!" She tells believers that God can take whatever they dish out, so just let him know how angry they feel.  Well, Victoria, this isn't the best way, either.

What IS the right way? The Biblical way to deal with suffering and trials?

I think that we can find verses in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that tell us we should not deny the pain or grief, but at the same time, to have joy in the Lord.....while we are in the miry clay.

I know, right? But I think if we look at some verses, it will become clearer....
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (II Corinthians 6:10)
Peek through this window with, I will give you a boost so that you can see inside....

See those two men? This is a prison they're in. Horrible conditions: dirt floor, damp and moldy walls, a pile of musty straw to lean back on and try to drowse. What's that you asked me? Oh, yes, their feet are clamped into metal contraptions to hold them way for these two to escape now. Yes, I know, I see their bleeding backs, too. They were stripped of their clothing and beaten severely before they were brought here. It was all illegal, but that didn't stop their enraged opposition -- they had healed a young girl of her demonic possession. Wonderful for the young lady, but her owners lost their source of income, since she told people's fortunes.
Paul sat up and tried to ease his aching back....seemed any way he moved there was straw poking into the lacerations on his back. He reached over to brush off his companion, Silas, and smiled at him. "Friend Silas," he said, "at least we are alive!" Silas straightened his painful back and felt his bruised ribs. "True, brother Paul," he sighed. "We are in pain, but we are still here! And our Lord said things like this would come to us."
"Let's sing, Silas!" Paul chuckled. "It will make us feel more hopeful, in spite of our distress!"

So indeed, they did sing songs and hymns. And the rest of the story is in Acts 16 if you would like to read it....
I believe that Peter is telling us that we can rejoice at the same time we are "distressed" by our trials. That word that he uses is translated "pain" and "grief" elsewhere. So Peter is NOT denying the pain we feel. He is not saying that we will not (or should not) voice our grief. What he is doing is pointing us to the genuine joy that a Christian can have, in the midst of the trial.

The hope that the Psalmist spoke of.... the "possessing everything" that Paul mentioned.  It's a matter of perspective, I think.  We can have joy even in the miry clay.

Please join me the rest of this week as we study these verses!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday slowdown

As we get older, our thoughts may turn more often to our heavenly inheritance, and those who have passed away. This song seemed particularly suited to our studies this week.

Blessings to all!

If I survey all the good things that come to me from above
If I count all the blessings from the storehouse of love
I'd simply ask for the favor of him beyond mortal king
And I'm sure he would grant it again
I want to stroll over Heaven with you some glad day
When all our troubles and heartaches are vanished away
Then we'll enjoy the beauty where all things are new
I want to stroll over Heaven with you

So many places of beauty we long to see here below
But time and treasures have kept us from making plans as you know
But come the morning of rapture together we'll stand a new
While I stroll over Heaven with you
I want to stroll over Heaven with you some glad day
When all our troubles and heartaches are vanished away
Then we'll enjoy the beauty where all things are new
I want to stroll over Heaven with you

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Our inheritance: secure

We are finishing up our study this week by focusing on these verses from I Peter:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:3-5)
I hope that we are praising God right along with Peter as we talk about our inheritance from God -- our salvation.

Do you enjoy old movies? Remember some of the great old ones, like the Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot adaptations, where a room full of people is listening to a will being read? No one is talking because they are all intently listening, to see if they were willed anything....what did I inherit? is what they are thinking....
In verses four and five, Peter says that our inheritance, our salvation, is safe for eternity. Let's look at what Peter says, and see what other verses say, too, shall we? Because I enjoy reading Peter's description of an inheritance that is locked up in heaven (best bank ever, am I right?) and guarded against anyone who might try to take it from us! Not only that, but God's power is also guarding us, so that we will someday enjoy our inheritance!

Now, Christ Himself and being with Him is our inheritance -- but it also includes all that He will provide for those He has saved from sin. In fact, it's so vast that it is hard to describe. The only thing Peter can do is tell us what it is NOT: it's not perishable; it's not able to be defiled (spoiled); it won't fade.

Maybe we'd better look more closely. What does Peter mean?
When I studied up on it, most commentaries said that by imperishable, Peter meant our salvation is not harmed by death or decay.  Human inheritances are susceptible to both -- we might die before we can get our hands on it and enjoy it. If we do manage to wrap our arms around it, it is still subject to rust, moths, thieves, etc....
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
But not our heavenly inheritance -- it is not perishable, and it can't be destroyed.
The commentaries told me that by "undefiled" in some translations, Peter means it cannot be spoiled by moral impurity. Think greed here. (Grin) Earthly inheritances can be the source of nasty quarrels and downright greed and thievery amongst family members. It can go on for years and years. Everyone and everything is touched by these situations, and it spoils people and things. Our heavenly inheritance? I can't take from yours, and you can't touch mine.....God has plenty for all of us!

Peter also says our inheritance won't fade. Time won't touch it. We have all heard stories of people who inherit vast fortunes and fritter them away. Their wealth fades away and they are left bereft, often much poorer than they were before they inherited their money. But God's riches are inexhaustible!  We are going to live eternally, and we will never "run out" of all that He has provided for us.

Sometimes new believers worry about getting to heaven. They still are clinging to the "what I can do to be worthy" way of thinking, and sometimes we veterans do, too. What if we don't make it? Will I really get to heaven where my inheritance is?
See that word in verse five: shielded -- we see it again in II Corinthians (11:32), and it means that those who are saved are under enemy attack. We know that, right? Satan is running around on earth and seeks to devour us! He wants to somehow stop us from getting to our salvation inheritance. But we are surrounded by God's power, and He will guard us. We will have safe passage to heaven, because we are guarded by the same Power that spoke our world into being!

I'm interested, too, in that phrase translated "ready to be revealed in the last time." My studies seem to indicate that Peter is saying we only enjoy a small portion of what God has for us, while we are on earth. We can trust God that our heavenly inheritance will be way better than we can even imagine! I kinda think that we will not be bored sitting in the clouds and strumming. At least not all the time! (Grin) Let's be logical, our Father is a Creator Who made an incredibly complicated world and universe, and we are in His image. I think He will have lots for us to do!
Are you concerned that you "don't have that kind of strong faith"? Oh, but you do! You have lots of must make sure that you put your faith in Him, not in yourself. Like the man who said to Jesus, "I my unbelief!" God alone is powerful, and He can impart faith to us. We must cast ourselves on His mercy, and ask Him humbly to give us faith.

Our Christian lives are built one day at a time....trusting each day in what Christ has done for us, and in His promises to always be with us. Then we can persevere, and we can claim our inheritance on that great day when "faith becomes sight."

Lord, you alone are worthy of glory! Humble us so that we trust only in you, not in ourselves. Strengthen our faith in your mercy and love!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Our inheritance: salvation

We're continuing to focus on these verses (below) where Peter breaks out into exuberant praise, and then explains why:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:3-5)
Peter is telling the believers who have been scattered into different lands to praise God for their salvation -- that it comes from God the Father through the work of the Son, Jesus Christ. I'm not sure if this is where some of the preachers that I've listened to get the idea of a three point sermon, but Peter does lay out three ways that our salvation comes to us from God! He tells us that if we keep this in mind, we can praise God no matter what trials we are facing....

Let's dive in!
The first thing that Peter mentions is that we need to remember our salvation comes from God's wonderful mercy.  Our salvation doesn't come from anything within us, nor from anything that we have reality, it comes in spite of us!
We can't earn it.
We can't convince God that we deserve it.
Mercy is just that....unmerited, undeserved favor. God looks upon us with compassion, in spite of our sins, and He loves us.  As far back as in Martin Luther's time, humans cherished the thought that we could atone for sins. That we could acquire eternal salvation. We thought, hey, we're strong, we have free will, we can do good works....
The truth is, we have to let go of those thoughts in order to experience God's mercy. The only thing we deserve in our sinful state, is punishment.
Instead, He shows us mercy.
After all, if our salvation depended on our goodness, it wouldn't be very secure, would it? What if we did something bad? What if we weren't quite as good as was necessary?
Let's explore this idea of our own goodness.....
When the dinosaurs were romping around (grin) and I was in college, the professors sometimes graded "on a curve."  Essentially, they threw out the grading scale for a test, instead saying that wherever most of the students' scores lay would be the average, or C grade. If the bulk of their scores were around 65, that would be a "C" even though ordinarily it was a failing grade. Those who made higher than 65 were in hog heaven, as my grandma used to say, because even if they wouldn't have had a good grade on the old scale, they did have a good grade "on the curve."
All this to say, again, that if being saved depends on being good......what if God doesn't grade on the curve? Or, what if the curve is higher than we thought? We might think we're sitting pretty.
Instead, we are enjoying a moment of false hope!
We do not get into heaven because WE are good. We get into heaven because JESUS was good -- He died and rose again to redeem us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
If we let go of what we think is our own goodness, and ask God for His mercy, then our salvation is as secure as the mercy and faithfulness of God.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Peter says we can also praise God because He is powerful enough to provide salvation... Check out those verses again.  It says that God "gave us" new birth, and that He "shields us" by His power.  We remember that Jesus spoke about the new birth to Nicodemus, right? (John 3)
Just as we were once born physically, we have to be born spiritually. Now, we didn't have a thing to do with our first birth! And we can't assist in our spiritual birth, either. It's brought about by the life-giving power of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)
Here again, aren't we glad that our salvation doesn't rely on our will, or on our effort? That would be awfully shaky ground! But it comes from His mighty power to bring us from death to life -- and that makes it a "sure thing."

That "sure thing" is based on the third thing that Peter mentions here: the resurrection of Jesus. In His death, He Who knew no sin bore the sins of all of us. And in His resurrection, He completed our salvation:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.   (I Corinthians 15:17-20)
Peter and the other disciples were eye-witnesses. Jesus made many appearances to the apostles and the others before He ascended into heaven. Any doubts or gloom that Peter may have had initially were turned into confident assurance!

No matter our trials, no matter how big the problems seem, we can keep praising God because our inheritance, our salvation, comes from God -- not from ourselves!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Not just travelers in this world, but also heirs

(Graphic courtesy of Forward Ministries site)

We've discussed how we are travelers in this world....this is not our home, we are "just traveling through." We've also looked at how the Spirit inspired Peter to praise God in spite of the suffering he was undergoing. He also was encouraging the "exiled" believers that he was writing to, to rejoice!

Oooooh, doesn't it bother you sometimes? When you are going through a difficult time, and some bubbly, perky Christian tells you "we should rejoice always!" Something about our human nature, even though our spiritual side knows they are right, doesn't want to praise right then. (Grin)

But that is what Peter is doing here, writing to these Christians who are suffering. Is he being insensitive? Well, no.
What if I knew that you were going through some extraordinary trials. Really deep difficulties. That you were afraid and worried. And I saw the estate attorney coming up your walkway, and texted you: "Praise the Lord! You just inherited millions!"
That money might not solve all of your problems, but you would have some interesting options, right?
Well, we haven't inherited millions -- we have an inheritance that is WAY better! Our inheritance is reserved for us in heaven!
Does that seem superficial to you? Does it seem like I'm being shallow? Are we thinking in the midst of our trials that we need help right now.....not that we have help later on, when we die?
Perhaps we are saying to ourselves, "I'm being persecuted and treated unfairly at my workplace." Or even, "I was fired for my Christian testimony." "I can't find work, and I'm facing extreme financial issues." Or perhaps, "I have a mate who is not a believer, and my life is so difficult." Or "I'm facing death."

Those are the exact same issues that were facing the people to whom Peter wrote! We will see in the coming chapters that Christian slaves were being treated unfairly by their masters - in spite of the fact that they'd done nothing wrong! Christian wives were being treated uncharitably by their unbelieving spouses. Many of these "exiles" had lost folks who were their friends, and now these former friends were slandering them. Some were being persecuted, and some were even facing martyrdom. Peter knew all of this, but he still cheered them on, and talked about a "living hope."

Are we keeping our heavenly inheritance in mind as we face our problems in this life? If not, we may be buying into an error-filled type of Christianity that emphasizes wealth and prosperity in the here and now, instead of eternal life with Christ. It's easy to fall into that trap. Some folks think that heaven is a wonderful extra, but they want the good life now! Perhaps they were told that God had a wonderful plan for their lives (which He does) but they didn't understand that the plan might mean enjoying the riches of our Lord Jesus, while in the midst of trials....

I guess we need to make sure that whether new or old, we believers think about what salvation really means -- it means that even though we truly deserve God's wrath, we've been delivered from the penalty of sin through the death of Jesus on our behalf! When He rose, He gave us victory! If we are not saved, we are lost, under the penalty of a holy God. Maybe one of the problems today is that we're talking to people about being saved, and they have no concept of how terrible it is to be lost! If people have forgotten (or don't know yet) what it feels like to realize they are lost, how can they understand enduring hardship in our Christian life?

Maybe folks don't appreciate what God has done in saving Christians, we may have gotten away from looking at things with an eternal perspective. As my grandma used to say, we "have blinders on" and can only see the trials right in front of us. We complain and run after whatever we think will make us happy. Whether it's biblical or not, we chase the "happy stuff."
Have we forgotten the terrible fate God has saved us from?
Have we forgotten the wonderful (and eternal) inheritance He has given us in heaven?

Peter makes these points about being heirs: our inheritance comes from God, and it's safe for eternity!
We'll discuss this more next time!
But when the set time had fully come,God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Peter 1:3-5 Embarrassing?

In many churches today, the singers sing lovely choruses in praise to the Lord. The leaders pray and the preachers give their sermons of worshipful teaching. The congregation will sing when the hymn time comes. But will they (as my grandma used to say) even make a peep, other than that?

How about us? Do we pretty much "clam up" when we walk into church? I guess in many churches, it's not very common for folks to speak out. Years ago, almost all churches here in the southland had what was referred to as the "Amen corner." We had folks who would punctuate the preacher's words with hearty outbursts of "Amen" and "Praise the Lord!" -- and sometimes, "Preach it, Brother!" (Grin)

Nowadays, that doesn't happen as much. In fact, when people are overwhelmed with a feeling of worship or praise, and they give voice to those emotions, sometimes they are regarded as strange! Do we look sideways at folks who voice their approval? When the Spirit moves someone, do we inwardly wish that they just wouldn't do that?

What about us? Do we allow the Spirit to have free range within us? When we are moved by the words we hear, or the realization of a spiritual truth, do we clamp down on it? Are we embarrassed to give voice to these feelings?

Oh dear.
Perhaps we need to be more open. More free to express ourselves. Ya think?
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19: 37-40)
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving    and extol him with music and song. (Psalm 95:1-2)
Now, let's look at our next two verses in I Peter.....
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:3-5)
Peter has just burst out into praise, hasn't he? (Grin)
In another translation, it reads "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"  Peter is so full of joy that he can't hold it in!
How long has it been since we experienced this exultation? How long has it been since we actually said anything aloud to our Father? Either in a personal setting, like in our prayer and study time, or at a family gathering where a blessing was said before a meal? Or in church, if something the preacher said really struck a chord with us?

I don't mean to encourage anyone to do things they are not comfortable with. This is purely an individual matter, and it's between us and our Father. I know that sometimes a vocal response can be a distraction to some people who are intently listening for the Spirit's teachings..... but I know, too, that our praise can be a testimony to others! It's a fine line, no?

Sometimes I think that we have become too comfortable with our salvation: have we forgotten about the horror of hell, and the grace and mercy that has saved us from it?
Peter is referring to this here, and says that God is to be blessed (praised) for His mercy, His salvation, and for His power to protect us through eternity! 
Wait a minute.
Did you read through that too quickly?
Go back and re-read that bold print.....we'll wait for you right here.

Do you feel the joy bubbling up inside you?
Let it out!
Right now, wherever you are, say aloud a thank you to our Father! If you are moved to sing your praise, go ahead!
I guarantee you, you will rise from this study (and your praise time) with a renewed spirit of gratitude!

Don't be embarrassed! Let it out!

I can't wait for the rest of this week's study!