1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 8

When I hear the word, “mortality” I think of the saying, “Live your life backwards”.   This doesn’t mean in a morbid sense, but live your life with how you want to be remembered and the how you want to touch the lives of those sent your way. 

People are not comfortable at all about talking about death.  It frightens them and with the majority I think it is because they do not know Christ as their Savior.  Instead they immerse themselves into this world and all its trappings ignoring that someday they will face the Lord.

Christians become trapped in the merry-go-round of this life, focusing on temporal pleasures and desires, rather than focusing on the fact their life and all they do belongs to Him.  The cares of living can very much be a tool that Satan uses to entrap us and take our eyes off of Christ and  our purpose for Him.  They become as the seeds sown in the parable in Mark 4:16-19.

 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

This life seems so important and all consuming but it is so very small compared to eternity.  James 4:14 describes it perfectly. “ Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

A favorite analogy that has always stuck in my mind is “If you go to the ocean with an eye dropper and you put on drop of water in the ocean, that drop of water is your life and the ocean is eternity.”

We forget we are more spiritual beings than physical beings.  THis life on earth shouts and clamors for all our attention, but it is for a short time as we have seen.  Yet our souls live forever and our future with the Lord should be even more important than this life on earth.

If we can truly grasp how short this life is in the scheme of things, we will have an urgency to reach the lost and even help the “lambs” that have strayed back to the Lord.  If you walked by a house at night and it was on fire, and you knew the family was sleeping, wouldn’t you run in and do all you could to wake and rescue them?  To get them out before it was too late?   Yes!

Would you be afraid you would offend them?  No.  Would you be afraid you would make them angry?  No.  You would want to help them see the danger and flee.

Yet thousands are dying and going to spend an eternity in Hell and people sit by with the same excuses above: I might offend them or anger them.   They in even more danger than the people in the house fire!

Sunday morning in his sermon my husband shared a true story.  A town was celebrating, for the first time in a a long time, a full year with no drowning in the local pools. It was located at the swimming pool.  Over 200 people turned out and there were 100 life guards on hand.  As they celebration wound down the last 4 life guards were clearing everyone out.  There at the bottom of the pool they found a 31-year-old, fully clothed man. They quickly pulled him out and tried to resuscitate him but it was too late he was dead.  He had died surround by all those life guards.   This is like all those dying and going to an eternity in hell surrounded millions of Christians.  

We need to overcome our fears, put aside our selfish focus and reach those that truly need Christ.  Yes they may be offended and they may even get angry, but they might also accept Christ and then they will thank you.  If they refuse Him then you have planted a seed that someone else can come along and water that may ultimately lead to their salvation. We have no time to wait.  His coming is near.

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)   2 Corinthians 6:2

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 7

My internet was down for over a week and I was unable to make my post for this Bible study!   Sorry for the delay. 

Being wronged and treated unkindly or unfairly by others are a part of life and can be expected just like trials and tribulations in a believer’s life.  Christ suffered such treatment also, how can we expect any different.  Are we greater than Him?

God DOES care that we are being treated unfairly and He WILL in His way and time deal with the other person, BUT most important to God is HOW we respond to this mistreatment. 

This confuses some but it is quite simple:  God wants us to mature and grow through these testings, and He knows that the incorrect attitude and spirit will do more harm to us.   It will allow Satan (because we are following his ways) to set up strongholds in our life that will make us and those around us miserable, hinder our walk with God, damage our testimony, and keep us from serving Him in the way He would have.

Being treated badly by others is weight lifting for the spirit.  Responses done correctly strengthen spirits, but done incorrectly it harm us.   The key is to respond (allowing the Holy Spirit to control and guide you) not react (allowing the flesh and the devil to be your control and guide).  It is a plain and simple choice but very difficult one if you are in the habit of deal with the situation like a blow torch.

When being treated badly it pleases God to see us act like His Son. Now this doesn’t mean it will not affect us in some way.  You will probably feel explosions going off inside and fire shooting from your eyes.  What is important is that our outward response is right.  If we accept His grace, immediately forgive the person and not dwell on the event, we will learn to respond as quickly as we used to blow up. Then that inner fire of anger will fade. Another plus is that we will not be guilty of throwing another log on the “fires of contention” and turning the situation into a battle.  Many times the best response is simply silence.

The problem here is the majority of time people think that any negative response toward them done wrongfully because they have done no wrong.  More often than not they have brought it upon themselves and made.  If you find yourself being mistreated my EVERYONE, ALL the time, then you and the Lord need to sit down  take an inward inventor of yourself. You may not be the martyr you think.  We have already read this in Lesson 2, but I believe it is a true guide for when we are unfairly treated.

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:”  1 Peter 2:19-21

This was a timely lesson.  For many, many years I have suffered maltreatment at the hands of a person.   In the past few years it has been an almost daily basis.  The Lord had helped me grow in responding to situations. But having it so regularly has been a new challenge and caused me to grown again. 

Have I respond correctly 100% of the time?  No, but the Lord has lovingly convicted me when I didn’t and I was more mindful of it the next time.  Have I arrived yet?  No, and I don’t think I ever will.  God will continue to work on me till He takes me home. There will always be somebody come on the scene that will have a new way to “punch my buttons”, and I will be tested again.  If I handle it as the Lord wants, my spiritual “biceps” will get stronger.

Recently it had become almost unbearable.   God lovingly stepped in and gave me a break from the situation, but I am about to return to it again.  I am ready and with the Lord’s help I will grow even stronger.  I am not looking forward to it and I do not like it, but I know this is a season of life meant for my good. 

I know I speak of him often in my reviews, but the greatest example in this is my precious husband.  In 40 years of marriage I can honestly say I have never seen him respond incorrectly when he was mistreated.  I have seen him have herculean strength and hold his tongue in vicious attacks.  God has used him as an example in molding my life in so many areas.  I guess that is another reason we could say our responses are very important.  Our family, our children, and those around us are watching and we are influencing them.

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 6

The first thing that came to my mind when harmony was mentioned is an orchestra playing beautifully and someone on a horn playing sour notes.   Or a choir singing in one accord and you being so touched, then there is one singing out of tune.  It ruins the whole thing.   The same thing applies to a contentious or bad attitude in human relations, be it a church, a family or the workplace.  

When a choir sings the same words, the right notes and blends together it blesses the hearers.  They want to be there and be a part of the performance.  It holds true for churches too.  When we blend together with godly attitudes, actions and words we bless those who come and they will want to be a part of the ministry.  

As a pastor’s wife I know firsthand how harmful the lack of harmony is to a church and her ability to do God’s work. The ones that are just worried about “self”, want a “solo” and have all  their way, or want to sing a different song and not work with the group do great damage. 

Some folks forget the saying, “It’s not all about me”.   The focus is on Christ and others.  They fail to see or understand that what they are doing destroys God’s work and damages the lives of others.  When a member of any family is out of sorts, negative, angry, or critical, it affects that family as a whole.  

The Delphos love mentioned in the lesson is a wonderful point, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ and like it or not your church is your family too.  That can backfire too, because unfortunately it is our tendency to treat our family worse than anyone else and show our rotten side, and that becomes the same attitude toward the church family.  A person feels so close and comfortable to them that they take out their bad moods on their brothers and sisters in Christ. 

There is a scripture that gives us a “stop and think where this is coming from!” check list.   And that is, James 4: 14-18:

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

This should be a wakeup call when for our attitudes, words and actions.  If it is not of God it will be worldly, fleshly and the Bible even says “devilish“!   Wow, that’s scary!  One of the enemies to harmony is STRIFE.  The scripture says there is “every evil work:” I don’t think many realize that they are doing evil, and we all know where evil comes from – Satan.  So that means when we are not harmonious with others we are doing Satan’s work!  There’s our clue that how we are acting is not of God! 

Then He goes on in verse 17 to give us another checklist that tells us when our conduct is of Him  We will be  peaceable, gentle, easy to be approached or get along with, merciful, doing good works to others, not prejudice, and not being a hypocrite.

Verse 18 is the final key.   The righteousness of Christ that is part of us through our salvation is planted in others by us allowing His peace or peacefulness to control us.   Then and only then can we share that peace and affect others.    If you don’t have the seeds you can’t plant them and if you can’t plant them you can’t grow them!

I believe this is a powerful scripture to memorize and even write down on a card to keep with you if you are having struggles in this area.  Any contention, anger, bad mood or bad attitude should be a trigger for us to say, “Hey!  This isn’t of God!”  Only then can we begin to change and please Him.

We can look at harmony is the oil that greases the machinery of God’s work and allows it to run smoothly and efficiently!

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 5

This weeks lesson touched on many areas where confusion exists concerning God’s Word. 

God has a perfect plan for marriage just as He does for other areas of life.  The problem is the flesh rears its ugly head in this area too.  The Bible teaches that “. . .the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:. . .”    Ephesians 5:23    This involves submission as verse 22 tells us,  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”

Submission is a touchy subject with some Christian women.  Satan has scrambled it into meaning something it doesn’t.   For women he has created the idea that it means being a doormat.  For mean he has painted the picture of a demanding and unkind dictatorship.  Neither of these are what God intended.   When both parties follow His plan submission in marriage becomes something fulfilling and beautiful.  Whether or not our spouse fulfills their part we are still responsible to God to obey His Word, and He will bless it. 

One of the blessings is a woman can influence her unsaved husband for the Lord.  It is not a guarantee but there will not be the hinderance of her ungodly attitude and speech to hinder his heart being touched.  Scripture has one interpretation but many applications.  I have seen women also influence their saved husband who are not following God’s Word.  Either way God will bless obedience to His Word even in the face of difficulty.

Another area of confusion is with true beauty.  The world has bombarded us with the idea that beauty is all outward, in stylish clothes, makeup, hair style, and a “Barbie” body.  What is frightening is how even girls as young as 4 and 5 are believing the outward beauty lie.   Yes we should take care of our outward appearance, but God looks at our meek and quite spirit.  That will radiate true beauty on the outside with no need of worldly trappings.   I have seen women so stunning they took your breath away, that is until they opened their mouths and you got to know them, then they were no longer beautiful.  On the other hand I have seen women who were extremely homely, yet when they spoke and I got to know them they glowed with real beauty.  There beauty came from the Lord.

Lastly was the subject of relationships women might have with men in the workplace.   A woman should never be close friends with a man other than her husband and vice versa.   If a man is a friend  they are friends with him as a couple.  That friendship should never be conducted alone.  The woman should not visit with the man or share intimate details or problems with the other man.  communication makes a marriage and relationship strong.  It draws the couple together.  It will do the same for someone you are not married to.  A woman should guard against this to avoid temptation of herself or tempting the emotions of another man.

Relationship principals in God’s word is timeless and they work!  Lives may be different and customs and times, but people are still the same.   Something we should never forget no matter how “modern” they times we live in.

Princess Stories by Carolyn Larsen

I loved this book, but my 6 year old granddaughter loved it even more!  She was sold on it the minute she saw the beautiful pink cover with sparkly purple flowers (her two favorite colors). Since she sees herself as God’s little princess and a princess in training, she was surprised there were such princesses in the Bible.  That sparked her curiosity immediately!

The stories were written in such a way that kept her attention.  Each princess/ female Bible character is given a title, such as “Rebekah the Helpful Princess.”  This gave her an idea right away what the special character quality of that woman.   The story has a rhyme that begins with “Mirror, mirror on the wall. . . “and introduces how the “princess” displayed the character quality.

I was impressed with how each account clearly told the Bible story.  They were short but very easy for a child to understand.  My granddaughter quickly grasped the biblical concepts.  Each story has a Bible verse to read and memorize that brings home the main truth presented. 

At the end of each story there is a section called, “Princess Ponderings”.   It contains 3 parts: A comprehension question about what was read, a quick activity or thought to apply the truth of the story to their lives and another scripture with a question about what was learned. 

Each part was perfect in length, not too long and not too short.  The pages are beautiful with flower boarders and the illustrations are stunning and appealing to any little girl.   My granddaughter begged for me to read more, and was excited about how she could be like each princess.  Every little girl should have this book in their library!

I received this book free from Tyndale Press.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

I Am Second Real Stories. Changing Lives By Dave Sterrett and Doug Bender

This is a powerful book.  As a minister’s wife my husband and I have seen people come out of very dark and painful lives and accept Christ as their Savior.   Yet in a short time go back to the same lifestyle.   For this reason, this book was very encouraging  to see so many not only accept Christ but continue to make Him first in their lives.   I think it would also be encouraging for those struggling and wondering if they can truly make a lasting change.

I liked the title of the book, it really spoke to me.  We have to be second and Christ first for Him to work in our lives.  Today many try to make Him second and wonder why they don’t have more of a victory in their spiritual walk.

These are stories of all kinds of people, some famous, the ones that are thought to “have it all”.  I appreciated the transparency and honesty of each person.  Putting it all out there regardless of shame or ridicule shows that they have made Christ first. All walks of life and every addiction and sin you can imagine is represented here. 

 As I read their failures and mistakes, and saw how greatly sin had destroyed their lives,  I witnessed how the awesome power of God can work in the seemingly impossible situations.   The book gives the strong message that there is always hope in Christ, no matter where you are or what you have done.  I found stories very inspiring and gave me a renewed desire to make sure I am second and Christ is first.   

I especially liked the fact that a website is posted where I can go and watch each person speak and give their testimony!  A real bonus!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255