Friday, March 1, 2024

Prophetic Revelation and the Gospel

 


1 Peter 1:10-12 (CSB)
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

The main purpose that Peter had in writing this letter, that we call 1 Peter, was to encourage Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Not only were they scattered, but they also faced opposition. The opposition they experienced caused them to doubt and which led to them to consider giving up. This back ground is important to remember as we read this text, because it would shape the way the original recipients of this letter would have hear it. 


1 Peter was written to people who wondered if following Jesus was worth it.


In order to encourage these exiles, Peter reminded them that the Old Testament contained God’s promise to rescue to His people from the sin that corrupted God’s good creation. This promise, taught by the law and the prophets, caused God’s people to believe that one day the Messiah, the Anointed One, would come to carry out God’s promise . The faith of the Old Testament saints was anchored in the hope of redemption (even though they did not fully understand all the details of God's plan) this Messiah would bring. 


Their anticipation of God’s salvation was secured by their faith and their hearts longed to experience all that God had promised.


According to Peter, the Old Testament prophets diligently studied God’s promises and looked forward to the events their prophecies promised. Their prophecies, which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, pointed toward the coming of Jesus and the redemption he would bring to God’s people. However, they also understood that it was not yet time for God’s promises to be fulfilled, and that is why they longed to see what would happen.


This passage should remind us that salvation in Jesus is far more beautiful and  encompassing than we can imagine.  It is so marvelous that even the angels, who are in heaven with God, are amazed by God’s plan of salvation. 


The Gospel, the Good News that God’s Kingdom comes into this world through Jesus, captivates the attention of the angels to such an extent that they continue to study intently all of God’s promises and actions.  Their dedication highlights their desire to understand the depth of God's love and mercy that is revealed in Jesus Christ.


We are heirs of this Gospel, and if the angels continue to be amazed at God’s love and grace, we too should marvel at the beauty of the prophetic revelation fulfilled through Jesus. Let us join with the angels in heaven, praising God for the indescribable gift of salvation.


My prayer is that the mysteries of God's grace continue to inspire and transform us so we can reflect the heart of our Savior into the world.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Weekly Prayer Prompts: Drawing Closer to God

 

This week the prayer prompts designed to help you draw closer to God as you learn to rely on His love and guidance. Each day, I have provided you with a unique prayer prompt to guide your conversations with the Lord. I want to encourage you to take a few intentional moments each day to reflect, pray, and connect with God.

Monday: Surrendering Worries
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

1. Begin your prayer by acknowledging any worries or anxieties you're carrying.

2. Surrender these concerns to God, trusting in His love and care.

3. Pray for the peace that surpasses all understanding to fill your heart.

Tuesday: Gratitude for Blessings
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." - Psalm 106:1

1. Reflect on the blessings you've received in your life.

2. Express your gratitude to God for His goodness and provision.

3. Thank Him for specific blessings that have touched your heart recently.

Wednesday: Praying for Others
"Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." - James 5:16

1. Take time to pray for the needs of your family, friends, and community.

2. Lift up specific requests for healing, comfort, and guidance.

3. Ask God to work through your prayers to bring about positive change.


Thursday: Seeking God's Will
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10

1. Quiet your heart and seek God's presence in your prayer.

2. Ask God to reveal His will for your life and guide your decisions.

3. Pray for the strength to align your desires with His purpose.

Friday: Confession and Forgiveness
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9

1. Reflect on any areas where you've fallen short or made mistakes.

2. Confess these sins to God, seeking His forgiveness and cleansing.

3. Meditate on the depth of God's grace and thank Him for His mercy.

Saturday: Gratitude for Creation
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." - Psalm 19:1

1. Spend time outdoors or visualize the beauty of creation.

2. Offer a prayer of gratitude for the wonders of the natural world.

3. Pray that Christians will take seriously the stewardship and care of the earth.

Sunday: Renewal of Faith
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

1. Reflect on your journey of faith and growth in Christ.

2. Pray for a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit to renew your heart.

3. Ask for strength to continue following God's path with renewed commitment.

 My prayer for you this week is for this experience of prayer will be a source of inspiration and spiritual growth for you. Remember that prayer is a conversation with God, and He delights in hearing your heart's desires and concerns. As you use these prompts, open your heart to God's guidance as you become more confident with your relationship with Him.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Step Away From The Lies

 

The first step toward God is a step away from the lies of the world. It is a renunciation of the lies we have been told about ourselves and our neighbors and our universe.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 29

Have you ever stopped to think about the world we live in?

This world is filled with tons of messages that seek to shape who we are, what we believe, and how we see ourselves and others. Our constant exposure to media in all of its variety to the enticing whispers of advertisements, makes it feel like we're caught in a web of deceit.

And you know what?

These lies not only twist our perception of reality, but they also mess with our hearts. The messages we receive from the world of make us feel inadequate in our effort to follow Jesus and disconnected to God.

Let's not lose hope!

Peterson's wisdom, from his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, reminds us of the way forward. We need to take that intentional and bold step away from the deceptive narratives that surround us.

Yes, it starts with a choice. Picture it as turning away from the unhealthy and cancer causing food that have held you consumed for too long.

The Bible, provides many examples of people who have embraced this pivotal step.

One person is the prophet Isaiah, whose profound encounter with God is recounted in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name.

The vision Isaiah witnessed unfolded before him—a scene of God seated in Heaven on a throne, enveloped by spiritual beings. The sheer awesomeness of this revelation overwhelmed Isaiah, prompting him to exclaim:
“Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of Armies.” (Isaiah 6:5, CSB)
Isaiah's response was profound in its authenticity. He confronted the truth about his own sin and acknowledged the shortcomings of all of Israel.

Rather than succumbing to despair, Isaiah took that crucial step towards God. He openly admitted his transgressions and laid them bare before God. In response, an angel purified his lips with a burning coal from the altar, declared:
Now that this has touched your lips,
your iniquity is removed
and your sin is atoned for. (Isaiah 6:7, CSB)
Isaiah's story reveals a fundamental truth: that first step toward God starts with breaking free from the world's lies.

It means throwing away those distorted beliefs we have about ourselves, our neighbors, the world we live in, and even God Himself. I won't lie—this process will probably involve facing uncomfortable truths about ourselves.

Like anything worth doing, this process is hard, but the result is worth it. That is why Eugene Peterson called this journey a long obedience in the same direction. It's the journey that involves repentance, change, obedience that moves us to forgive, serve, and love.

As we walk this path of faith, we need to draw inspiration from the trailblazers who've gone before us. We need to be like Isaiah and all those other heroes of faith who have chosen to step away from the shadows of deception. We need to let go of the chains and weights of deceptions that have held us back and embrace the truth that will ultimately set us free.

In this process it is crucial to remember: with every step we take, we're not alone.

The Holy Spirit walks beside us, using Scripture, our prayers, and the Church to guide us closer to the heart of God.

With this in mind let's step forward with unwavering obedience and trust, knowing that this journey is leading us to a deeper relationship with the One who loves us beyond measure.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Weekly Prayer Prompts: Be Grateful


Prayer is God’s gift to His people so we can connect with Him, seek His guidance, and find comfort in His presence. Each week, I will provide you with prayer prompts to help you to be more intentional with your prayer time as you seek to follow Jesus. Set aside some quiet time, find a comfortable place, and let these prompts assist you in your prayer time

Monday: Gratitude and Praise
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." - Psalm 100:4

1. Begin your prayer by listing five things you're grateful for today.
2. Reflect on God's goodness in your life and offer Him sincere praise.
3. Thank God for specific blessings you might have taken for granted.

Tuesday: Seeking Forgiveness
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9

1. Spend time in self-reflection, acknowledging any areas where you've fallen short.
2. Ask God for forgiveness and strength to overcome your shortcomings.
3. Pray for the wisdom to make amends with those you might have hurt.

Wednesday: Intercession for Others
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people." - 1 Timothy 2:1

1. Create a list of people who need your prayers—family, friends, colleagues, global issues, etc.
2. Lift up each person or situation in prayer, asking for God's guidance, healing, and comfort.
3. Pray for those who may be struggling with faith, that they may find strength in God.

Thursday: Surrendering Control
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5

1. Reflect on areas of your life where you're holding onto control.
2. Pray for the faith to surrender those areas to God's will.
3. Ask for God's guidance in making decisions and seeking His plan.

Friday: Strength in Difficult Times
"I can do all things through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:13

1. Think about a current challenge you're facing and bring it to God in prayer.
2. Ask for strength, courage, and resilience to navigate through the difficulty.
3. Trust in God's promise that He is with you every step of the way.

Saturday: Growing in Faith
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7

1. Pray for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.
2. Ask for a thirst for His Word and a hunger to know Him better.
3. Seek opportunities to serve and grow within your faith community.

Sunday: Communion with God
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." - Matthew 6:7

1. Pray for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.
2. Ask for a thirst for His Word and a hunger to know Him better.
3. Seek opportunities to serve and grow within your faith community. 

I hope these prayer prompts are helpful as seek to be more consistent in your prayer life. Remember, prayer is a personal and heartfelt conversation with God. Use these prompts as a starting point, but you need to give room to let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and words. May your journey of faith be strengthened as you seek God's presence through prayer. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Sunday Prayer: Longing for God’s Presence

 


Dear Heavenly Father,


I come to You with a heart that's longing for something more. Just like a deer seeks water, my soul thirsts for Your presence. In the midst of life's busyness, I find myself wanting to be close to You.


You are the beginning and the end, the One who created the universe, yet You're also right here with me. It's overwhelming to think that You care about my worries and cares. The mountains, the oceans, all the beauty around me, they remind me of Your greatness, but what I truly desire is to walk through this life with You.


I admit that there are times when my worries and doubts get the best of me. Please forgive me for those moments. Help me refocus my heart and renew my devotion to You. Your presence is what my heart craves, and I want to seek You above all else.


When life gets tough, when darkness creeps in, I want to remember that I don't need to be afraid. You're my comfort, my guide, always providing for me. Your presence is the light that drives away my fears.


I want my life to be a reflection of Your love. May my words, my thoughts, and my actions all bring glory to Your name. I want to live in a way that shows the world I am a citizen of Your kingdom.


Lord, You are my Rock, my Refuge, my Savior, and my God. I ask that You let me experience the joy of experiencing Your presence every day. Let Your light shine on me, and may my heart find eternal joy in You.


In Jesus' name, I pray,

Amen.

Friday, August 18, 2023

The Path of Surrender




"A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. Yes, it has something for more than difficulties: it is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us, praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it." 

Andrew Murray, Humility and Absolute Surrender; p. 72

Surrendering our lives to God is not easy, but it is the only way we can become the people God created us to be. Andrew Murray, a South African writer and pastor (1828-1917) taught about this theme of surrender quite often. He recognized that surrendering was not a natural thing to do, and therefore it would not be easy, but that it was an essential part of our discipleship.

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." 

Here Jesus taught that surrendering to God requires denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him.

Living a life of surrender means that we hand over the control of our lives, our plans, and our desires to God. To surrender our lives means acknowledging that God knows what is best for us, even when God’s will goes against our desires. Total surrender to God requires a level of humility that is hard to achieve in a world that values self-reliance, self-promotion, and personal achievements above almost everything else.

Surrendering to God will also require us to go against the cultural expectations of society, to make choices that are unpopular, and to have morals and values that seem odd the people around us. This can lead us to face criticism, rejection, and even persecution for our faith. 

When we surrender we will also need to give up some of the activities and pleasures that we once thought were essential to our happiness because they do not align with God’s will.

Despite the challenges, living a life surrendered to God is not impossible. As we walk this path of faith, we will need to trust that God will sustain us and guide us every step of the way. 

To do this we need to stay connected to God through prayer, reading the Bible, meditating on the truth of Scripture, reorienting our lives through worship, and spending time with other Christians. What this means is that surrendering to God is a daily decision, a constant giving up of ourselves to His will.

So today, let us make the decision to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Jesus. It is crucial for us to remember to trust in His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit as we live a life of surrender to God.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to surrender ourselves completely to You. Give us the strength to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Help us to trust in Your grace and the power of the Holy Spirit as we walk this path of surrender. Amen.

Friday, May 12, 2023

A Bleeding Heart

 



Jesus not only taught about the importance of love, compassion, and forgiveness, but it is also how he lived. He spent time helping others and showing compassion to those who needed healing, help, and hope. Jesus’s mission of compassion was an important part of how he ushered God’s Kingdom into the world, because it was a visible demonstration of what life in the Kingdom was like.

 Throughout the Gospels, we read about examples of how Jesus showed compassion to people, especially to people on the outside of community. It is interesting to note that most of the Jesus’ healings allowed people to return to being part of community life. Their healings moved them from being on the outside of the community to the inside of community. 

One of the best examples of this reality is seen in John 8:2-11. In this passage we read about a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders brought this woman to Jesus, after catching her in the act of adultery (apparently the man vanished into thin air). They asked Jesus what should be done with her. After all, the Law demanded that a person (both the man and the woman) in her situation should be stoned to death. 

Jesus, wanting people to rethink how the Law should be applied, said, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7, CSB) Jesus' words not only revealed his compassion for a woman who was unfairly treated, but these words also highlighted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who were quick to judge and condemn others without acknowledging their sin.

Another example of Jesus' compassion is found in the healing of the leper found in Mark 1. Leprosy in the first century was a feared disease since it was untreatable and made a person unclean. Since lepers were viewed as unclean they were forced to live in physical and social isolation. 

In Mark 1:40-45, we read how Jesus cleansed this man with leprosy by touching him, despite the social taboo of touching a leper. Jesus not only showed compassion for the man's physical suffering, but Jesus also restored his social standing by cleansing him of leprosy, which allowed the man to return to the community. 

Another example of Jesus showing compassion to those who were outcasts or and marginalized by society is found in Luke 7:36-50. In this passage Jesus is invited to dinner by a Pharisee named Simon. At dinner a woman known for her sinful life came in uninvited. She made a spectacle of herself as she cried and kissed Jesus’ feet. Simon was disgusted by her presence, but Jesus praised her and forgave her sins. This story reveals Jesus’ compassionate and gracious character as he makes room in the Kingdom for those the religious culture had rejected. Jesus makes room for the outcasts by offering them hope and forgiveness.

Without a doubt, Jesus' life was marked by compassion for others. He reached out to those who were suffering, whether physically, emotionally, or socially, and offered them hope and healing. Jesus' compassion for people provides us with an example to follow.

Given that reality, it makes me wonder about the motivation behind statements like this.
 


I think this a good example of being so committed to a theological and political worldview that it distorts the true image God and true character of Jesus. As I just demonstrated, reading of the Gospels reveals this as an incorrect understanding of Jesus and his mission.

The Bible clearly teaches that God saved us because of His love (John 3:16). Pity, mercy, and compassion all flow out of love. God saves us because He loves us. This is crucial because it is love that forms the foundation for how we are to live.

John wrote:
1 John 3:16-17 (NLT)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

Sacrificial love is the opposite of promoting your own glory. It is doing what is best for the person in need, regardless of the cost to you.

Paul emphasizes this very point in Philippians 2.
Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT)
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

We are to be humble, because Jesus was humble. It was the humility of Jesus that led him to set aside his divine rights and sacrifice himself for us. Yes, the passage goes on to say that Jesus will be raised to the place of highest honor, but that was not what motivated him. His motivation was love and that required humility and sacrifice.

The write of Hebrews wrote:
Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

In Jesus we see both the glory of God and the character of God, and what we discover is that at the very heart of who God is is love. We can’t separate God’s glory from love, and therefore, compassion is at the very heart of salvation.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

What is Purpose?

Purpose is a concept that has intrigued human beings for centuries. This reality is seen in the ancient question, “Why am I here?”

The fact that we exist isn’t enough. We want to know that there is meaning behind our existence. Many people will spend their entire lives searching for that meaning, trying to understand what their purpose in this world is.

If we are going to start this search we need to ask two clarifying questions: “What is purpose and where does purpose come from?”

At its core, purpose provides the meaning to our existence. It is the driving force that gives our lives direction and worth. It helps answer to the question, "Why am I here?"

Some people will tie their purpose their career, while for others, it will be related to their relationships, faith, charity work, or community involvement. Many people want to have a purpose that is greater than themselves.

From a Biblical perspective, purpose is discovered in the reason behind the creation of humankind. This is what we read in Genesis 1:26-28 (CSB),
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

This passage is key to understanding the Bible since it tells us the reason for humankind’s existence: to bear God’s image. The most important idea behind bearing God’s image is that we are to represent Him in the world. I like to say that we are created to demonstrate God’s character. We are to join God in ruling and caring for His good creation. Whatever our purpose is in life is tied to this reality.

If we are going to demonstrate God’s character, then we need to know who God is and what His will for creation is. The Apostle Paul wrote:
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10, CSB)

Paul’s pray for the Colossians was that God would grant them a knowledge of His will AND spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need to both. The knowledge of God’s will is ultimately a gift from Him. Only He can reveal what His will is for creation and for our lives.

Not only do we need to know God’s will, but we also need to know how to live that will out in our lives. That is what spiritual wisdom and understanding is all about. My definition for wisdom is “the knowledge for living life well in God’s good world.” Again, only God can give us this wisdom and understanding, it is not something that we can discern on our own.

Notice that Paul went on to say that we are to live in a way that is worthy of Jesus, in way that pleases God. In other words, our purpose is found in representing (this brings us back to Genesis 1:26-27) Jesus in how we live (bearing good works) and in spiritual formation (growing in the knowledge of God).

Our purpose isn’t found in our specific work or achievement, rather it is how bear God’s image in the various areas of life. On the one hand this means everyone has the same purpose, but on the other hand it means that our purpose is unique to our situations and experiences.

We can only answer the question, “Why am I here?”, by turning to God. He is our Creator and He created us to bear His image. As we demonstrate God’s character to the world around us we discover the purpose of our lives.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Community and Personal Faith



“From the beginning it was clear that Christianity is something people do together. Having said that, the earliest writers were also concerned that all members of the Body of Christ should be awake and active in personal faith; should know their own responsibilities and make real for themselves the privilege of worship. That way, when the whole assembly gathers together, each will have his or her own joy and sorrow, insight and question, to bring.” 
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian, p. 157

Acts 2:42 shows us that from the beginning that Church understood the importance of being together. These first followers of Jesus devoted themselves to learning and living out their faith together. Christianity is, at its core, a communal faith. The Bible teaches the importance of gathering together, of being in fellowship with one another, and of working together for the Kingdom.

Yet, we cannot separate the importance of Christian community from the personal faith of individuals. The writers of the New Testament understood that while the Church is the “Body of Christ” and the “Family of God”, each individual member of the Body must also have their own personal faith. This means each person needs to know their own responsibilities and take an active role in the ministry of the church community.

In our modern Christian culture, it is easy to see our faith as something that is purely personal. Many Christians view faith as a private matter, something that they practice on their own. While there is certainly value in personal faith and the spiritual disciplines that we do on our own, this idea overlooks the importance of living out our faith in community. When we gather together as a church family, we are able to encourage each other, to learn from one another, and to grow together in our faith.

The early Church understood this well. They knew that the faith could not be lived out on privately. They committed themselves to  gather  regularly to worship, to study the scriptures, and to pray. In these gatherings, these followers of Jesus were able to share their joys and sorrows, to ask questions and seek answers, and to offer support one another in their spiritual formation.

Being committed to a church family was not just about gathering together. The New Testament writers and other early Christian writers also emphasized the importance of personal faith. There was an expectation that each disciple was to take an active role in their own spiritual growth. They were encouraged to meditate scriptures, to pray, to fast, to serve, to give generously, and to seek God's will for their lives.

This personal faith was essential because it allowed each disciple of Jesus to develop their own personal relationship with Jesus, and the unique experience and perspective of each person would strengthen the community as a whole. 

While we have lost the importance of this ideal it is  still something we should encourage in our modern church context. When we gather together as a community of believers, we each bring something unique to the table. We each have our own experiences, our own questions, and our own insights to share. By coming together, we are able to learn from one another, to grow together, partner with one another for the work of ministry, and encourage each other in various ways.

Christianity is both a communal and a personal faith. From the beginning, it was clear that the faith could not be lived out in isolation. The early Christian communities gathered together regularly to worship, to study the scriptures, and to pray. At the same time, they also emphasized the importance of personal faith. Each individual member of the community was expected to take responsibility for their personal spiritual formation.

If we are going to model our modern expressions of faith after the New Testament example we need to recapture the truth the following Jesus is both a communal and an individual activity. We need to commit to doing those activities that will grow our personal faith and we do to commit to participating in the life of a local church family.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Sunday Prayer: Making Disciples


Dear Heavenly Father,

We come before you today with hearts filled with gratitude for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, and for the privilege of being called to make disciples for Him.

Lord, we know that making disciples is not an easy task, but we also know that it is a commandment that we cannot ignore. We pray for the wisdom, courage, and strength to obey your commandment and make disciples of all nations.

Help us to be effective witnesses for you, to share the good news of your love and grace with those who do not know you, and to teach them to obey all that you have commanded.

Lord, we pray that you would give us a heart for the lost, a heart that beats with the same love that you have for all people. Help us to see people the way that you see them, to love them the way that you love them, and to reach out to them with the same compassion that you have for them.

We pray that as we make disciples, we would be faithful to your word and your teachings. Help us to be patient and persistent in our efforts, and to trust in your power and grace to bring about the transformation that only you can accomplish.

May our lives be a living testimony of your love and grace, and may the fruit of our labors bring glory and honor to your name.

In Jesus' name, we pray,

Amen.


 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Cling to Hope


1 Peter 1:6-9 (CSB)
You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith — more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The Apostle Peter wrote the book we know as 1 Peter to encourage and strengthen the persecuted Christians who were dispersed throughout various provinces in the Roman Empire. In this passage, 1 Peter 1:6-9, Peter taught about the importance of enduring trials in order to strengthen our faith and receive the ultimate reward of salvation.

Peter began by acknowledging that the trials we face in life can be difficult and painful, which often causes us to feel grief and sorrow. However, in spite of these trials it is important for us to rejoice because we know God will not waste our pain. Instead, God will use them for our benefit and growth. Through our trials, Peter wrote, our faith is tested and refined, just like gold is refined by fire. This refining process strengthens our character and prepares us for life in the Kingdom.

It's important to note that Peter didn’t say that suffering is optional for Christians. In fact, he wrote that trials are "necessary" for our growth and development. This is difficult to hear, especially when we're in the midst of a particularly when we are growing though a trial. However, it's crucial to remember that God is able to use all our experiences, good and bad, to form us in the image of Jesus.

Peter goes on to say that faith refined by the fire of trials and hardships is more valuable than gold. While gold is precious and desired for many purpose, including jewelry and money, it is still perishable and can be destroyed. Our faith, on the other hand, is eternal and cannot be taken away from us. It is through our faith that we receive salvation. This salvation, and eternal relationship with God, is the most important goal of our lives.

It is interesting that Peter acknowledged the reality that we have not physically seen Jesus, but that reality hasn’t stopped us from trusting and loving him. Our faith is not based on our physical interaction with Jesus, but on the truth taught to us, the example of other Christians, and the difference following Jesus made in our lives. This faith brings us both joy and hope, even in the midst of our trials.

It's important to note that Peter doesn’t say that we should be happy about our trials themselves. Instead, he encouraged us to find joy God’s love as He uses our trials to refine our faith and form us in the image of Jesus. This joy is not a surface-level happiness that comes and goes with our circumstances, rather it is a deep and abiding sense of peace that comes from knowing that we are loved and cared for by our Heavenly Father.

1 Peter 1:6-9 teaches us that our trials serve a greater purpose in our lives. They are not meaningless or purposeless, but are opportunities for us to grow and develop as Christians. As we endure  the trials of life with faith and perseverance, we can trust that God is using them to refine our character and to strengthen our hope. We should rejoice, even in the midst of our suffering, knowing that God is with us and working all things together for our good.

Prophetic Revelation and the Gospel

  1 Peter 1:10-12 (CSB) Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and careful...