Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Standing in God's Grace. (1 Peter 5:12-14 KJV)

        



By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my son. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen. (1 Peter 5:12-14 KJV)

 I wasn't sure what I could say about these ending salutations, however, there is a small phrase that stands out here.  "...this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand..."  Of course Peter is saying that the whole of what he has written is about the true grace of God in which we stand. It's a book about suffering and God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him because His power is made perfect in his weakness.  

When we lean on God's grace, we find the strength to endure hardship.  When we lean on God's grace we find the strength to do good to those who hate us and despitefully use us.  When we lean on God's grace we find the strength to keep our mouth shut when we would like to lash out.  When we lean on God's grace we find the strength to be the spouse, employee, employer, child, etc. that we should be.  When we lean on God's grace we can do what is right instead of what is convinient.  It can go on and on.  God's grace is all about the strength we need to be sanctified in and through the trials of this life.

God's grace is all about the spiritual riches that He bestows on us though Jesus Christ at Christ's expense.  It  is not earned or merited.  We are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God lest any man should boast.  All the glory goes to God alone. This is the grace we stand in.  

Here We Stand:

Scriptures Alone
Faith Alone
Grace Alone
Through Christ Alone
Glory to God Alone

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Are You Looking in the Wrong End of the Telescope? (1 Peter 5:10-11 KJV)

       

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11 KJV)


It's interesting what we focus on in various scripture verses.  I suppose it has to do with our circumstances and frame of mind at the time.  Before I always focused on the part that says, "...after that ye have suffered a while..."  I was encouraged to see it would not last.  But this was a self-centered, man centered way to look at this scripture.

The focus should be on God.  What can I learn about God and what He does from this passage?

1. He is the God of all grace
2. He called us
3. He possesses eternal glory
4. He brings us into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus
5. He will perfect (mature) us.
6. He will stablish us (make us stand firm)
7. He will strengthen us
8. He will settle (calm) us
9. He is forever glorious.
10. He has dominion over all things forever and ever.

There are all these things to focus on about God and what He does, yet we tend to focus on one tiny piece about suffering for a while.  How small our view is!  We look in the wrong end of the telescope and see only a tiny pinpoint about suffering instead of turning the telescope around and seeing the whole glorious view of who God is and a what he has and is doing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Combating the Adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)

        



Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 KJV)

 How do we combat our adversary the devil?

1. Be sober

Too often we make light of the devil.  But the Bible says he means serious business, so we need to be sober about him.

2. Be vigilant

We  can't let our guard down.  Ever.  He will attack at our weakest point.

3. Resist him

We must resist him.  My dad always says, "You can't let the camel put his nose under the tent flap or before you know it he will be all the way in the tent."  Same is true with the devil.

4. Be steadfast in the faith

In order to be steadfast in the faith there are certain means of grace we must take advantage of:
    a. Regular church attendance & fellowship with like minded believers
    b. Regular Bible study
    c. Regular prayer times

5. Remember, you are not alone...others are also afllicted by the devil

One of the ways the devil can get you down and defeat you is if he can convince you that you are the only one experiencing these difficulties.  Peter reminds us that we are not alone.  Others have dealt with and are dealing with these difficulties too.  You are in good company!  Don't get discouraged.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marsha's Musings: What Does Humility Have to Do with Casting Our Cares on Christ? (1 Peter 5:5-7 ESV)

      
 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 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. (1 Peter 5:5-7 ESV)

It's been good to study whole books of the Bible instead of isolated verses here and there because it forces me to look at context. Verse 7 of 1 Peter 5 is often quoted in isolation from the context it comes in.  It's the last half of a complete sentence.

” 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."

Of course, what is the therefore there for?  Prior, Peter says we are to humble ourselves toward each other and he says God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  This is the answer to why the therefore is there.

But what does humility have to do with casting our (care (KJV)) anxieties on Him?  This is usually not addressed when people talk about this verse.

What is anxiety, worry or cares?  Is it nothing more than trying to take responsibility for things that either are not our's to be responsible for or it is fretting about things that are out of our control because we want to be in control?

Think about that.  Our desires to be in control are basically rooted in pride.  We worry and fret over these things because down deep in our hearts we think we can take better care of these things than God can. So humility is required to really cast our cares (worries, anxiety) on God. This bit of an epiphany was surprising to me, it gives a whole new meaning to 1 Peter 5:7.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Reward for Faithful Pastors (1 Peter 5:4 KJV)

        
          
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4 KJV)

Yesterday Peter talked about the job of the pastor.  His job is to feed the flock willingly and not lord his authority over them.

Today's verse shows what reward faithful pastor's will recieve.  Sadly, there are many pastor's today who will be sorely disappointed on that day, because they did not feed the flock but instead spent their time in marketing strategies, watering down their sermons, and being purpose driven to bring in the unsaved.  They did not have time to tend the flock because they were too busy trying to please and attract the goats.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Elders and the Flock of God. (1 Peter 5:1-3 KJV)


        


The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3 KJV)

Feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof.  This is the job of the pastor.  Feed the flock. His job is not CEO.  His job is not entertainment organizer.  His job is not choir director.  His job is not AWANA commander.  His job is not any of a whole host of other possible titles.  His job is to feed the flock of God and oversee the other teachers who help in that.  All these other positions, if the people think they need them, then they should do those jobs.  The pastor needs his time to study and prepare spiritual food for the flock.  Too many churches allow their pastor's to wear too many hats and before long he is exhausted and discouraged and then his sermons begin to suffer.

Some other job descriptions for the pastor include these:
He is not to serve unwillingly.  Money should not be his motivation, although churches should pay him a living wage.  He should not let his leadership position go to his head, lording it over those under his care, ruling with a heavy hand. Instead, he is to be an example to the flock in his life and conduct.

What is the balance in your church?  Do you have an overcommitted pastor and an under-committed congregation?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Judgement Begins With The Church (1 Peter 4:17-18 KJV)

                    
    

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17-18 KJV)

Judgment has begun at the house of God.  Take a look at Houston,Texas right now.  The mayor is trying to subpoena all the pastor's sermons, text messages, emails and anything else they might send out to or preach to your congregations, so she can censor them.  Persecution of the church is judgment and it is going to purge the church of those who are not true believers and sanctify those who are.  

If believers are going to endure judgment here on earth, just think of what the ungodly will go through on judgment day when they stand before God.  

Those who are standing in Christ's righteousness will be saved on that day.  Only the righteousness of Christ apart from any works will save us from that demise.  We can not point to all our good works, religious rituals or anything else except the righteousness of Christ to save us on that day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Busybodies

                        
    

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Peter 4:15-16 KJV)

Peter is not saying a murderer, their, evildoer or busybody should get out of suffering for their wrongdoing. He is simply saying, "Don't do these things!"

I think it is significant that he lists being a busybody right up there with murder, thievery and evil doing. Wow.  And somehow we tend to be more guilty of this than anybody. Perhaps one reason he puts it right along with these other sins is because it's a form of killing. It's character assassination....killing someone's reputation. Why else would someone care to snoop on someone else except to get dirt on them so they can pass it along to their friends?

No, Peter says we should not do these things!  And if we suffer for doing these things, we deserve it. There is nothing to glorify God about in that.  Rather, we should such that if we suffer, we suffer because of our Christian Faith.  We have no reason to be ashamed of that and we can glorify God because of that.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Marsha's Musings: The Spirit of God Rests on The Reproached. (1 Peter 4:14 KJV)

                                          



If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:14 KJV)

I think of the lady in Oregon who has lost her business and is now looking at $150,000 in damages simply because she chose to honor God and declined to make a wedding cake for a same sex marriage. She is reproached for the name of Christ, but the spirit of glory and of God rests upon her for the choice she made. God will reward her one day in heaven for persevering in her faith.

I think of Pastor Saeed suffering in a prison in Iraq because of his faith in Jesus Christ. The spirit of glory and of God rests upon him. He is glorifying God in that prison.

I think of Christians being tortured and killed for their faith right now in the Middle East, China, North Korea, Russia and all over the globe.  We have been protected here in America for a long time, but the pendulum is swinging the other way now and the day is fast approaching when we will be called to stand for Christ and suffer...maybe even unto death.  Will I persevere if it comes to my door?  Will the spirit of glory and of God rest on me then?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Marsha's Musings: The Joy in Suffering. (1 Peter 4:12-13 KJV)

                     
    
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13 KJV)

In light of what this verse has to say, I have to laugh at those who preach a health and wealth gospel.  They must skip over the book of 1 Peter because it is all about suffering and they don't believe Christians should suffer.

This verse says we are going to suffer.  In light of that fact, we are to rejoice as partakers of Christ's sufferings.  Did you notice that our suffering will make our joy even more joyful at Christ's return?  It makes us ready and looking forward to heaven!  Our pastor says suffering weans us off the world.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Marsha's Musings: How Does Your Church Measure Up? (1 Peter 4:11 KJV)

                        
       

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11 KJV)

Peter focuses on two offices of the church.  That of teaching (speaking the oracles of God), and that of ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the church members.  He emphasises the fact that in everything that is done God should be glorified and praised.

This is a good standard to judge a church by.  Is God glorified in all things in the church or are the people glorifying and praising each other and themselves?

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Hospitality: Serving Others (1 Peter 4:9 KJV)


Use hospitality one to another without grudging. (1 Peter 4:9 KJV)

In the last verse, we were commanded to have charity toward one another.  Of all the qualities of charity, in this verse, Peter chooses hospitality.  Many think of hospitality as inviting people into your home.  That is a big part of hospitality, but there is more to it than that.

Hospitality can be greeting new comers to church and making them feel welcomed.  Hospitality can be  cleaning the church building or in our case, setting up the meeting room for church.  

I often think of Judy, our dear departed pianist.  Her husband was an unbeliever and mentally ill.  She loved to serve people and wanted to be hospitable by bringing people into her home, but she was not able to because of her circumstances.  So she brought flowers and tasty treats from home to share with everyone at church during the coffee break.  

Hospitality is serving others, and Judy was a great example of that.  She  did it enthusiastically. 

One of the biggest deterrents to hospitality is disorganization.  I have a huge problem with this.  There are so many distractions that get in the way and before I know it another week has come and gone and I have not done anything to serve other in the way of hospitality except for my own family.  Perhaps that is why Peter honed in on hospitality over all the other qualities of charity.  Perhaps he knew it was far too easy to become self absorbed and distracted with other things and neglect serving others.  Oh how I need to do better in this area!!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Love Covers a Multitude of Sins (1 Peter 4:8 KJV)



And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 KJV)

Let's face it, we all have our shortcomings...areas in which we sin, whether by omission or by comission.  In the church there are all kids of different Christians.  Some with rough personalities, and others who are more refined.  All too often I have seen those who should have been more mature by reason of how long they have been a Christian, become greatly offended with another in the church who might not be quite as refined as they.  It has gotten so ugly at times the pastor has gotten dragged into to referee.  Sometimes it all results in a church split as each side tries to gather followers to their side.  These things ought not to be in the church!

We are commanded to have charity among ourselves and in so doing a multitude of sins can be covered over.  So what if so and so said something that offended you?  You have three choices.  You can either put the best construction on it and let it go, talk to them privately, or you can nurse your wounds and complain to others, starting a gossip chain through the church. What it comes down to is this: We are each responsible before God for our actions.  When someone offends me, what do I do with it?  Are the actions I'm thinking of taking pleasing to God or not?  Am I assassinating the other person's character by what I am doing and saying?  Having charity with one another helps to smooth over these areas of friction and helps us in the church to be at peace with one another.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Approach the End with Prayer Not Terror. (1 Peter 4:7 KJV)



But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (1 Peter 4:7 KJV)

Peter wrote this a long time ago, making me wonder if he was speaking about the persecutions Christians were enduring and the fact that the end of their lives were near.  If you look further down in the context, verse 11  speaks of "the fiery trial which is to try you".  Because of the context, I don't think Peter is referring to the end of the world or to the rapture. 

At this moment, in our nation, most Christians are not suffering for their fath to the point of death as they were at the time of Peter or as they are in the Middle East right now.  However, it very well could come to us in the near or distant future.  Therefore, we are to be sober and watch with prayer.

It's my first inclination, when I see or hear about the atrocities and threats are happening in the Middle East, is to tremble in my boots with fear. But that's not what we are to do.  Be sober.  This isn't just referring to not being drunk.  It has to do with thinking rationally.  A person who is fearful is not thinking soberly about what God's purposes might be and about His soveriegnty in these circumstances. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  We are to approach these things with prayer, not terror.