1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 9

Wow, 9 weeks has gone by so fast! In all other countries the elderly are respected and esteemed. The younger generation looks to their widsom and insight from the years of experience. Amberica is one of the few countries where this is not so. It saddens me becasue the older generations have so much to teach and share.
On the other hand I see many older people being hypercritical of the younger ones. While they may not agree with their dress, music and other choices. The older people must look at the inward person of each youth and seek to minister and reach there. All the things they are exposed to in media, school, and the world in general gives them the message that they aren’t measuring up. They need our love and time.
It is essential for older people to encourage the younger. Who else will. Their peers are usually competing with them and going through their own struggles and confusion. The Bible tells us to encourage one another and that includes the youth.
If a church offers such a program that is great, but I believe it is a responsibility of each individual to reach out. That would be like saying my church doesn’t have a program for witnessing so I can’t do it.
Satan wants our youth and the future of God’s work under his control. It is up to us to pass the torch and guide those stepping into our shoes

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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.

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lesson contains some of my favorite lifetime scriptures that have reached deep into my spirit and left a mark.  The first is 1 Peter 2:19-20 
“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. “

I love this scripture for so many reasons.  This reminds me of when my grandchildren beam at me after a meal and say “I ate all my dessert, aren’t you proud of me!?”   It always makes me laugh.  If we rip, snort, and tear through people with our words and actions, then become a martyr, God is saying, “Big deal! You haven’t done anything great!”   We have to face it, there are no medals or rewards for facing a mess we made!

The last part of the scripture is exciting to me because it tells me that suffering when I have done no wrong patiently and with the right attitude pleases God!  How wonderful to know something else I can do to please God.  It also stands as a reminder that when I do not take persecution patiently I displease Him.

1 Peter 2:21-23 fits in my VERY FAVORITE scripture category.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times throughout the years I have quoted this or shared it with someone. 

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

I find this scripture exciting because it clearly spells out steps in following Christ’s example.   Many years ago I was confronted on a regular basis with someone speaking to me in such anger and cruelty that I would cry.  I began to pray for them and quote this scripture as they spoke.  I didn’t completely take away the pain but it comforted me in knowing I was following my Savior’s example and leaving the outcome to the greatest Judge of all, God. It gave me peace that God was in control of the problem. Not that I was saying, “Lord, I will step back and you can take a swing at them!  I know you can knock them out!”  We aren’t to give it to Him that vengeance will be served but that His perfect will would be worked in both our lives.

When they criticize us gripe at us, and falsely accused us, (revile us) we are not to return “the favor” .  It is the flesh that wants to “hit’ back verbally when we are hurt with words, “to threaten” with retaliation.  The scripture tells us Christ held His tongue.  He wasn’t a door mat or passive.  He did something much more powerful than sling ugly words: He turned the situation and person over to God to judge the outcome.  
 
Yes, this is difficult especially facing one that has repeatedly hurt us.  I remember the first time I obeyed this scripture, I felt like a full balloon squeezed to tight at the top.  As if I were going to explode.  But the more I obeyed the easier it got and the better I felt.  I wasn’t so emotionally upset and the anger didnt’ linger for hours or days.  I see now it was because the Lord was in control of my emotions and tongue.  Not the devil.   I have found that is a tried and true test if how I responded was of the devil or the Lord.  If it is of the devil I have an anger and resentment “hangover“.  If it is of the Lord I may feel aggravated for a little while but peace takes over.

It reminds me of the time I ate a half gallon of pecans and praline ice cream in one sitting.  It was great going down but boy was I miserable afterwards.  ( I don’t like that flavor to this day!)  It feels good at the moment to have your say and put them in their place but if we are truly His child, the guilt and regret that follows makes us miserable.

This is an area I must constantly stand guard in and remember this scripture because the enemy can catch me off guard and I will fail.

The person that has been the greatest living example of this scripture in my life is my husband, both before and after he surrendered to the ministry.  I have seen people scream false accusations, say cruel things to him, throw objects at him, and even pull their fists up at him, but he never reviled or threatened.  If he was led to speak it was softly and kindly.  Even his face didn’t show any agitation. 

This lesson was such a blessing, a reminder of truths I hold dear, and a challenge to apply them in the future.

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 3

What a wonderful reminder I received from my study this week!  When I was saved, I was chosen to do a special work for God.  Yes, I already knew it, but I needed to be told again!  Way too often I feel insignificant and useless but I am not! 

In school we always wanted to be chosen for a team or a game.  The one chosing was just another child but it was important  to us, and had a bearing on how we viewed our value in our class and among our peers.  Not to be chosen hurt.  It was horrible to be the last one left standing so the last team “had” to take you.  I remember feeling rejected and unwanted. It felt good to be “wanted” and this lesson helped me remember how much God wants me. 

Amazing,  I am wanted by God, the Creator of the Universe!!    If I could only remember that,  what a difference that would make in my day-to-day life!  When we are chosen it is an honor but even more so by it being our King. That gives focus and purpose and importance to what I was chosen for.   It makes me want to do my best and please the One that chose me,  to be worthy of this honor. 

Another great treasure gleaned in this lesson is that my past cannot exercise power over me.    The past is done and over.  It has absolutely nothing to do with my life right now. Again, this is something I had already learned.

 I can also apply this to my future. I may fear and wonder about what it might hold,  but it cannot exercise power over me because it has not happened. Also, much of what I fear will probably never come to pass.  Should God chose to allow trials, whatever they may be, at that moment the Lord will give me the grace and strength to go through it.  I don’t have that grace and strength now because I don’t’ need it yet.  That’s why when I try to look into the future that it looks so impossible and frightening.

A story that is imprinted in my mind concerning this is Corrie ten Boom’s story about her fears that her family could possibly face being arrested and separated as others had.  Each week her father and her rode a train into the city to get the accurate time for the clocks in their shop.  He asked  when did he give her the ticket for the train; before they boarded on or after they were on?   She told him “no”, he handed it to her when they were getting on the train, right when she needed it.  Her father told her so it was with God’s grace and strength.  He gives it to us exactly when we need it not before or after.   

The only things that have power over me: my mind, my choices, my attitude, my spirit, are the things I give power to.  That power almost always starts in my mind with a thought.  I can over come all hindrances through Him because He lives in me and I have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:16b ”  . . .But we have the mind of Christ.”  

Satan says my problems  are an inpassable mountain, but when I quit looking my challenges through his eyes, and see them through the eyes of my Lord,  I realize it is only a small clod of dirt to be stepped on and crushed as I move ahead.

I found this week’s lesson very encouraging and uplifting!

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 2

The 1st paragraph really caught my eye about it being impossible to live for God in our own strength.  I find myself doing exactly that and not even realizing it.  It was a good reminder. 

Where the lesson talked about girdding up our minds, it reminds me of how Satan uses a runaway mind to control a person.  People don’t even think about keeping your mindunder control.  You can’t let it run everywhere without your permission just like you wouldn’t let your toddler.    YOU decide where it will go and what it will think on.  How can the mind of Christ have control over our minds if we let them run helter skelter  where ever  it wants?

Committing to daily Bible study will put a leash on our minds as it tells us in Romans 12:2.  When our minds are renewed they are pointed in the right direction, but we still are the ones to guide where they go.  This isn’t just impure thoughts, but negative, critical and complaining thoughts.  Included in this could be thoughts of fear and worry.

All actions and words start with a thought.  That’s another reason it is so important to guard what we think on or thoughts we allow to linger.  They could into to something more. If our thought life is under God’s control then our words and attitude will reflect that.

Another outward pouring of this is our love for others.  All love comes from
God.  If He does not live in us then we cannot love with a pure love.

1 John 4:11-12    ” Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

Sadly in our fallen world today the word “love” is not associated with God but with sensual love, and fleeting emotions of infatuation.

God’s Word is not just another book, it has power.  It is words of the Creator of the Universe.  It was written personally for each one of us.  When it is read heard, or spoken it has the power to change and do the impossible in the lives receiving it.  Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Oh the treasure we all possess in His Word and fail to use it.  How would our lives, churches, marriages, families and world be changed if we were committed to learning and applying it.

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 1

As I studies Lesson one this week and it touched on the opposition we face as Christians.  Situations I have felt rejected for my faith is when visiting people in their homes and sharing Christ.  Either they were hostile at the front door as soon as they knew you were a Christian or they were welcomed in immediately.  There didn’t seem to be much middle ground as far as reactions I have experienced there.  I would just apologize for disturbing them and move on. 

I have felt disenfranchised when I would be visiting with a person and as soon as they found out I was a Christian they would shut down and want to end our conversation.  I would remain friendly and let them operate at the comfort level best for them.

It main seem strange but the greatest mistreatment I have received for my Christian standards and beliefs is from those who profess to be Christians!  Even those within churches.  Many times it was those who were compromising with the world or under conviction.  All I can do is remain positive and keep a smile on my face.  When they ask I in a kind and humble way share why I believe what I do and conduct my life accordingly.

I love the reminder, (one that is always needed) about how trials bring about blessings.  Over and over in my life I have seen the Lord strengthen me, prepare me to help others and make the way for great things through trials that could not have otherwise happened.

The Living Stone Story touched me on a very deep level.  I related in a very personal way.  When my husband was 25 and we had a 2 yr and 1 yr. old, he had triple bypass surgery. They told him he had the heart of a 75-year-old man and had 6-8 years to live.  13 years later he had a heart attack and we were told by the surgeon that they would probably go in and just end up doing nothing given the previous condition of his heart.  They bypassed two of the bypasses.   22 years later ( 2 years ago) he went into heart failure and tests revealed there were not more arteries in his heart other than a couple of 20-year-old bypasses.  At that time they gave him 4 years to an artificial heart, it has been two years.  We do not know what the future holds and yes there are times I am afraid, but I have that peace in my heart that God is in control.  My prayer of course is for many more years.  I praise the Great physician for His mercy, grace, healing, and strength.  Yes God is faithful!