Posts tagged ‘1 Peter’

November 28, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday (Lincoln): Day of Thanksgiving

by Bethany

M’Cheyne1 Chr 24-25 (text | audio, 3:23 min)
1 Ptr 5 (text | audio, 2:06 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 5:6-7

Apostle Peter. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you …

President Abraham Lincoln. October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful Providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict … Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship … Population has steadily increased … and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

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November 27, 2013

843 Acres: Unpopularity as a Form of Suffering?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 23 (text | audio, 3:42 min)
1 Ptr 4 (text | audio, 2:40 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 4:12-14

Suffering: In our modern Western world, suffering for the faith rarely looks like “the forty lashes minus one” that Paul was given. For most of us, it is the daily decision to trust the goodness of the Lord in the form of obedience when our inner and outer voices tell us to question his goodness and disobey him. Is God really being good to me when he tells me only to marry Christians? Doesn’t he know how few Christian men live in New York? Is he really being good to me when he tells me to give from my salary to the ministry of the word? Doesn’t he know how little I make? When we obey him—as everything within us and around us tells us not to—it is suffering for the faith. It is, as John Owen says, mortification of sin. It is, as C.S. Lewis argues, a great divorce.

Promise: Such suffering is part of the Christian life because obedience is optional. It feels that we are choosing pain, even though—in reality—we are choosing trust, obedience, and joy. Choosing obedience in a culture that mocks it creates short-term pain, but long-term peace. The apostles understood this. Peter wrote, “With respect to [the non-believers], they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.” [1] Then he continued, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” [2]

Prayer: Lord, Christ suffered in the flesh for his obedience and, therefore, we will suffer in the flesh, too. We confess that we hate suffering and pain. When we experience it, we want it to end immediately. Yet suffering is a part of life—not only because our culture mocks obedience, but also because our sinful hearts have disordered loves. When we choose obedience, it is painful. Yet the time is coming when your glory and our joy will be revealed. Therefore, renew our hope in your promises that we may, by your Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh. Amen.

Note: Recommended readings: Mortification of Sin by John Owen (this version, in paperback only) and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (any version).

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Peter 4:4 ESV | [2] 1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV

November 26, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: Wrongdoing and Forgiving

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 22 (text | audio, 3:28 min)
1 Ptr 3 (text | audio, 3:18 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 3:8-9

Discerning Brokenness

“I didn’t mean what I said.” Can we take back, however, what has already been uttered? Who swallows the pain?

Can we somehow neutralize a wrongdoing so that we can restore a relationship without having to do the hard work of forgiving?

Imagining Redemption

To forgive is to name the wrongdoing and condemn it. To forgive is to give the gift of not counting the wrongdoing against the wrongdoer.

“For Christians, forgiving always takes place in a triangle, involving the wrongdoer, the wronged person, and God.” @MiroslavVolf

We forgive because God forgives. We forgive as God forgives. We forgive by echoing God’s forgiveness. @MiroslavVolf

Have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, humble mind. Bless those who revile you that you may be blessed. #1Ptr3

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for the forgiveness you offer to us through Christ, which came at great cost and much suffering.

We #confess that offering our forgiveness feels costly, too. Yet does it cost our lives? Is there anything we cannot forgive by your Spirit?

#Thanks for empowering us to share in your suffering that we share in your glory. Thanks for entering our pain so forgiveness is a triangle.

May we lean on Jesus, who brings unity, sympathy, love, tenderness, humility, that we may be blessed by blessing wrongdoers. #supplication

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Note: For additional reading on forgiveness, see Miroslav Volf. “Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.”

November 25, 2013

843 Acres: Sovereignty in the Social Order

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 21 (text | audio, 4:56 min)
1 Ptr 2 (text | audio, 3:29 min)
Highlighted: 1 Ptr 2:13-14

State: In medieval times, people believed that God mediated his sovereignty of the different spheres—family, state, church, education, science—through the institution of the church and, therefore, the church sponsored the arts (for example) and controlled the state. In the 1880s, however, Abraham Kuyper argued that each sphere stood coram deo—that is, face before God. God, he argued, is sovereign above all spheres and these spheres draw their own derivative sovereignty from the Lord Himself. This is how we encounter the sovereignty of God in the social order, as “his sovereign authority is exercised in human office.”

Functions: The state, Kuyper argues, is a special sphere that “gives stability to the land by justice.” [1] It has three functions: (1) to mediate between the spheres, e.g., “the family hour” on primetime television was instituted by the state as a negotiation between the family and the media, (2) to protect oppressed individuals within a sphere, e.g., “the minimum wage” was instituted by the state to protect workers within a sphere, (3) to provide for the common good and stability of the people, e.g., roads, police, etc.

Subject: Here, in 1 Peter 2, Peter encouraged his readers to honor the state: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to the governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” [2] Peter recognized that the Lord, having vested authority in the state, calls his people—who are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for his own possession”—to honor the state as a proclamation of the excellencies of the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, Rather than merely creating this world and then stepping away, you have chosen to govern your creation through us, your image-bearers, as viceroys. We recognize, however, that sin has distorted not only how we govern, but also how we are governed. Through Christ, you have shown us what submission to and honor of authority looks like. Teach us to love others, fear you, and honor the state. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Proverbs 29:4 | [2] 1 Peter 2:13-14 ESV

May 18, 2012

On Loving God and Others in Our Communications

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 5:6-7, 10
Full Text: Isaiah 17-18; 1 Peter 5

Love | How should we think about loving God and others in our communications with each other? After a year hiatus, I recently rejoined Facebook for work. As you probably know, Facebook stores all your information so that, if you want to reactivate your account, you haven’t lost anything. Three weeks ago, when I logged back on and saw my past activity, I was disappointed with myself. Almost all my activity was about three people – me, myself and I. So I decided to start anew. I deleted my entire wall and resolved to make the purpose of my online communications the same as my in-person communications – namely, to love God and others.

Church | When the apostles wrote letters to churches, they didn’t merely broadcast information about themselves. They never spoke of their persecution to brag about their gospel commitment or to gain their readers’ sympathy. Instead, they always aimed to magnify Christ and encourage their readers to endure in their love for God. Peter, for example, exhorted his discouraged readers, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you … And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” [1].

Others | In Philippians, Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” [2]. When it comes to our communications – whether in-person or online – with one another, how can we love God and others? No, not every conversation or status update has to be about God and Christianity. But how can we re-imagine what loving God and others looks like in all of our communications with each other?

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we are oftentimes self-seeking and self-focused people. As it was in the beginning, so it is now – we love to look to our own interests above the interests of others. How desperately we need new hearts! Give us great joy in imaging forth the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice as we put others’ interests first in all of our communications with one another. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Peter 5:6-7, 10 ESV  |  [2] Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

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May 17, 2012

On Courage, Duty and Integrity

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 4:19
Full Text: Isaiah 16; 1 Peter 4

Integrity | The Navy SEALs are special operations forces that carry out critical and dangerous combat and intelligence missions. In 2005, they adopted a creed that codified their commitment to courage and duty. It reads (in relevant part): “The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstances, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast … I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity … If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission … Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail” [1].

Mission | As Christians, we are called to even higher standards of courage and duty in the face of adversity for (at least) three reasons: (1) the stakes of our mission are eternal, not national, (2) our legacy is thousands, not hundreds, of years [2], and (3) our strength is Christ, not ourselves. Peter wrote to believers who were discouraged by the persecution they were experiencing because of their faith. He said, “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” [3].

Commitment | We are to commit to these things – trust God, live obediently no matter the circumstances, and fix our hope on God’s ultimate victory [4]. Last year, when SEAL Team Six captured Osama bin Laden, many of us wanted to join the SEALs. Integrity and endurance in the face of adversity on a mission are attractive, especially in our fickle culture. As Christians, our lives should be attractive so that others see Jesus as the treasure of the universe. We are to live so that “in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” [5].

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we are often weak and vulnerable in the face of adversity. Yet we long to commit ourselves to you and continue to do good. Therefore, when we are tempted to give in to sin, help us fight for obedience. Make our lives attractive so that people see your glory. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Brett & Kate McKay. “Manvotional: The Navy Seal Creed.” The Art of Manliness. 9 August 2009.  |  [2] See Hebrews 11 (“The Roll Call of the Faithful.”)  |  [3] 1 Peter 4:19 NIV  |  [4] Peter says that we should live “no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2 ESV) [4], that we should avoid “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3 ESV), that we should “keep loving one another earnestly” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV), that we should “show hospitality without complaining” (1 Peter 4:9 ESV), that we should “serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10 ESV), and that we should “rejoice insofar as we share in Christ’s sufferings that we may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13 ESV, but changed “you” to “we”).  |  [5] 1 Peter 4:11 ESV

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May 16, 2012

On Being Attractive to Men

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 3:3-4
Full Text: Isaiah 15; 1 Peter 3

Advice | Ladies, how can we be irresistible to men? Cosmopolitan suggests, “Men find heels sexy. But that stiletto is even sexier when it’s dangling off your toes … For maximum man magnetism, show off your shoulders with a strapless dress or sleeveless shirt. Bare shoulders plant one thought in a dude’s brain” [1]. Although the advice is ungodly, the assessment is true [2]. Men are wired to notice beauty in women.

Adornment | There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking to be attractively feminine. Solomon celebrated his beloved: “How beautiful and pleasant you are” [3]. God made women to be beautiful to men. As a result of the Fall, however, we sinfully crave the power of beauty [4]. Peter wrote, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of your hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing that you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” [5].

Love | Have we, as Christian women, asked the Christian men in our lives how we can care for them in the ways that we dress? [6] Is our goal in choosing outfits to entice and attract or to love and serve? Are we trying to cultivate their love for God or their lust for us? Even in dressing for church, do we ask whether our outfits might be distracting?

Precious | Solomon wrote, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” [7]. As we saw yesterday [8], to fear the Lord is to know that we are always in the presence of God. What does He find attractive? “The hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Yes, let us be attractively feminine, but let us never use our beauty to entice or manipulate.

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we have used our beauty for selfish purposes. In this way, we haven’t participated in the redemption of our culture and its desire for beauty. Forgive us, Lord, and give us wisdom to obey you in how we adorn ourselves. Let us not judge men for their struggles in this area [9] and, instead, let us be co-laborers with them, as we seek to live as precious in your sight. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Cosmopolitan. “How to Get Hit On All the Time.”  |  [2] As journalist Christopher Morley once wrote, “In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”  |  [3] Song of Songs 7:6 ESV  |  [4] The Lord told Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband.” A few years ago, I did a lot of thinking about this. Interestingly, I compared the Western and Eastern ideas of how this “curse” has played out in our world. In the East (primarily Muslim nations), they recognize that a woman’s body can be alluring and, as a result, they cover women head to toe so that men will not stumble. In the West, we have done the opposite. We have thrown off any modesty and declared women’s rights. Yet both cultures are responding to the same curse. It’s almost like two sides of the same coin.  |  [5] 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV. For an extended reflection on these verses, see John Piper, “Holy Women Who Hoped in God.” 11 May 1986.  |  [6] Over the years, I’ve had several conversations with godly men who have told me that certain types of clothing are generally more alluring and challenging than others. For example, some have told me that yoga pants or low cut shirts are challenging. When I tell women this, they’re shocked (especially the yoga pants one!). So don’t take my word for it! Ask the godly men in your life what particular outfits they find to be more difficult. Ask them how you can dress to point them more to God. Respect their assessments of what is hard for them.  |  [7] Proverbs 31:30 ESV  |  [8] 843 Acres. “On That-Which-Is-God and That-Which-Is-Not-God.” 15 May 2012.  |  [9] I have found that women have a hard time understanding men’s struggle in this area. Sometimes that leads them to think that we don’t need to pay attention to what we wear because, as they say, “This is their problem, not mine.” There are two problems with this response: (1) Sure. But as Paul says, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor’ (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV). We, as Christians, are called to love and serve one another. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 ESV). We should be considering how men think about these things and, in response, respect and serve them in these areas. (2) Someone once told me that men think about sex as often as women think about calories. Wow. That put it in perspective for me. How can we help them in our clothing choices? Just as I appreciate men who don’t make comments that make my struggle with calories harder, men would benefit by being around women who aren’t making their struggle harder, too.

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May 15, 2012

On That-Which-Is-God and That-Which-Is-Not-God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Isaiah 14:13-14
Full Text: Isaiah 14; 1 Peter 2

Pride | As we saw last week [1], God called Isaiah to speak to a stubborn and prideful people, indicting them, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high … I will make myself like the Most High’” [2]. Today, our pride may say different things, but it’s no less real. Most of the time, our pride says nothing about God at all. We ignore Him and act like He doesn’t exist. We function apart from prayer and His Word. We get frustrated with Him when He doesn’t do what we want or when He doesn’t tell us what we want to know. Oftentimes there is little or “no fear of God before our eyes” [3].

Incomprehensible | One way to attack pride is to meditate on God’s uniqueness [4]. A.W. Tozer wrote about God’s incomprehensibility: “When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not … make it mean ‘in the exact image.’ To do so is … to break down the wall, infinitely high, that separates that-which-is-God from that-which-is-not-God. To think of creature and Creator as alike in essential being is to rob God of most of His attributes … If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand” [5].

Transcendent | Concerning our response to His divine transcendence, Tozer wrote, “In olden days men of faith were said to ‘walk in the fear of God’ … However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent rims through the whole Bible … This fear of God was … an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty” [6].

Prayer | Lord, There is none like you in heaven above or on earth below. Yours is the greatness, the dignity and the majesty. All that is in heaven and on earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever [7]. You are exalted as head over all. Let us never create idols with our thoughts and let us become increasingly dependent on you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 843 Acres. “On Coming into the Presence of the Lord.” 8 May 2012.  |  [2] Isaiah 14:13-14 ESV  |  [3] Psalm 36:1. See also The Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer: “When the psalmist saw the transgression of the wicked his heart told him how it could be. ‘There is no fear of God before his eyes,’ he explained, and in so saying revealed to us the psychology of sin. When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is not deterrent when the fear of God is gone.” Tozer, A.W. (2010-10-20). The Knowledge of The Holy (Kindle Location 1188). Kindle Edition.  |  [4] The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer is one long meditation on the holiness and the otherness and the uniqueness of the Lord. I highly recommend it for anyone or any group who wants to spend time thinking about the difference between that-which-is-God and that-which-is-not-God and what that means in our lives and hearts. My community group is reading chapters of it together right now. You can find the entire essay on PDF: here. Or you can order it: here ($6.75).  |  [5] Tozer, A.W. (2010-10-20). The Knowledge of The Holy (Kindle Locations 161-178). Kindle Edition.  |  [6] Tozer, A.W. (2010-10-20). The Knowledge of The Holy (Kindle Locations 1189-1193). Kindle Edition.  |  [7] Prayer based on introduction to Chapter 7. Tozer, A.W. (2010-10-20). The Knowledge of The Holy (Kindle Location 1146). Kindle Edition.

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May 14, 2012

On the Declaration of Independence

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 1:14-16
Full Text: Isaiah 13; 1 Peter 1

Revolution | On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty or give me death!” [1] The seeds of the American Revolution, which would shed the blood of almost 50,000 people, were already planted [2]. Nine months later, on November 29, 1775, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a British attorney, “There is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose” [3]. By July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Expats | It’s strange to be an American in England on the Fourth of July. I’ve done it twice and both times I brought American flag band-aids and enjoyed traditional American barbeques with fellow expats. As Christians, however, we are expats every day. We live in a world from which we have declared independence. Jesus died to make us free citizens of heaven. As Peter wrote, “[Know] that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers … with the precious blood of Christ” [4].

Allegiance | How should we live out our allegiance to God in this world? With band-aids and barbeques? Peter writes, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” [5]. He continues, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light … Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war on your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” [6].

Prayer | Lord, Like the founding fathers of America, we see no point in living unless we are free in Christ. We would rather die than live apart from your grace and mercy [7]. Therefore, make us living testimonies of the gospel in our culture. Let our lives be holy as you are holy so that people will see how we live and want independence from this world. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Wikipedia, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!  |  [2] Wikipedia, American Revolutionary War (this number includes Americans and foreigners).  |  [3] Wikipedia, Declaration of Independence.  |  [4] 1 Peter 1:17-19 ESV.  |  [5] 1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV.  |  [6] 1 Peter 2:9, 11-12 ESV.  |  [7] See Philippians 1:21

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