II Peter 1

Vs. 13, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.”  Peter knew that the recipients of his letter needed an encouraging reminder of their faith.  Rather than jump straight to addressing the false teaching issue, Peter takes sometime to acknowledge the faith that got them there in the first place (vs. 3-11).  The Lord gives us every tool we need from His workshop to accomplish whatever He desires us to build.  As we grow in our faith, we grow in increasing measure this wonderful list of characteristics of a believer (vs. 5-7).  Peter knew that his time on earth was about to end (vs. 12-15), so that is why see this sense of urgency.  Unlike the false teachers who were growing in abundance, Peter was an eyewitness of Christ (vs. 16-18).  Through the Holy Spirit, God chose select people to administer this message of hope (vs. 19-21)

Regarding application…Assurance of Salvation.  Vs. 10, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”  Earlier, Peter reminded us in his first letter of the blessed hope that our inheritance will never spoil or fade (I Peter 1:3-5).  As we grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our own assurance of salvation will grow.  Our salvation was sealed when we put our trust in the Lord.  However, our emotions at times can betray us and that is why the more we know the Lord and grow, the more our confidence will soar.  My early years of faith certainly had moments of doubt.  However, the common denominator of those doubts were because I was not growing.  We are going to doubt and lack faith at times, but know that the salvation is achieved not by our own doing, but because of Jesus on the cross!

I Peter 5

Vs. 14, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”  A wonderful exhortation and reminder on Christmas Day!  In the midst of living in a dark world, we must not lose hope!  Peter exhorts those who are older to not live and lead like the world would have them do (vs. 1-4).  There is a often a danger in allowing pride to puff up our minds.  But, we must remember that pride is in direct opposition to God (vs. 5-7).  And speaking of opposition, we must take a stand against the devil who wants to devour (vs. 8-11).

Regarding application…Don’t Be Anxious.  Vs. 7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  There was much to be anxious for the original audience of Peter’s epistle.  And in many ways, there are always things we can point to in our life to make us anxious.  The Christmas season is probably one of the more stressful times in our lives with traveling, visiting family, and the extra-added events that we pile on.  Question: Is there anything in your life that is causing you to be anxious?  Let’s take the time to rejoice for a Savior has come ready!

I Peter 4

Vs. 12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”  Peter reminds us it’s all about having the right perspective on suffering.  In some ways, this is a very applicable text for us as we near Christmas.  Jesus came to us in a time when people in the world were suffering greatly.  Godly people were losing hope.  We are reminded that Jesus is Immanuel (God with us).  The world is surprised to see Christians live contrary to the flesh (vs. 1-6).  Because the end is near, we should make sure we are living as if Jesus could come again anytime (vs. 7-11).  Let us keep fighting the good fight and enduring for glory of the Lord is coming soon (vs. 12-19).

Regarding application…Love Covers Sins.  Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Question: How are we to love?  We are to love each other deeply.  This is hands down one of my most treasured verses in the Word.  Peter recalls a passage from the OT (Proverbs 10:12).  It is this deep love that came down to us from Heaven in the form of a baby.  Jesus’ love covered over our sins.  This Christmas, you will have the opportunity to love your family, church and friends with deep love.  Question: How can you show the love of Christ this Christmas Eve?

I Peter 3

Vs. 18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”  Jesus set the example for us in suffering and humbling himself.  Yesterday, Peter admonished us as citizens to submit to authority.  Now he takes the first portion of our chapter today to remind us to submit and be mindful of our relationship in marriage (Vs. 1-7).  Question: Why the emphasis on women?  Because, like today, when couples are married without knowing Christ it is often the woman who becomes a Christian first.  There were women in the new church that did not know how they should now respond to their unbelieving husband.  Likewise, men too have a great responsibility to love and be considerate to their wives (vs. 7).  In the latter half of our chapter, Peter goes on to give more practical ways we can live in a world where many will persecute and hate Christians (vs. 8-22).  No matter how others respond to us, we are to go out of our way to be good.  I found much comfort in Peter reminding us not to be afraid (vs. 14).  This comes from a man who had learned how to deal with his fear and now is stronger because of it.

Regarding application…Be Prepared.  Vs. 15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  Since we are not to fear the retribution of others, we should always be ready to have an answer for our faith.  Remember, the recipients of Peter’s letter were living in fear of persecution from Nero.  While we here in the States do not live under Christian persecution, we do have the same call to be prepared.  In other words, we are to speak up when asked why we live and do the things we do.  When people see Christians choose not to party and get drunk, when Christians choose to not curse, when Christians choose to give their tithe and time to church, When Christians love their community….People are going to wonder why?  That is why we must know His word and be able to articulate our own testimony to others.  Let’s be ready to answer why we celebrate Christmas to our family and friends!

I Peter 2

Vs. 5, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  Peter shares a wealth of encouragement to us in this chapter.  The more we know ourselves and our identity, the more we will be able to live holy lives acceptable by God.  At the beginning of our chapter, Peter admonishes us to crave His word (vs. 1-3).  As we crave God’s influence (word, church, prayer, fellowship) in our lives we are building our church on the Chief Cornerstone which is Christ (vs. 4-10).  Notice that the church as it grows, we are to be a active voice of God’s goodness to a dark world (vs. 9).  What a timely reminder as Christmas is right around the corner! Peter expounds upon how we are to live Godly lives (vs. 11-18).  And in the last section of our chapter, Peter exhorts the persecuted believers to submit to those who are above.

Regarding application…Our Example.  Vs. 21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”  They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery.  There are many people we try to emulate.  Those who are successful, we often pattern our lives to them.  Jesus set the example in how we are to live.  Jesus set the example in how we are to submit to authority.  In the face of persecution, how we respond can affect our testimony.  The world is watching us.  We are on display.  May our heavenly Father be proud!

I Peter 1

Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  The Lord Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21), and so this is exactly what Peter was doing.  The hope of a new birth was found in our Savior and this important reminder should never be forgotten.  Each believer who received this message was to remember that they were God’s chosen (vs. 1-2).  With these truths in mind, Peter goes on to exhort the worried Christians how to respond in light of the persecutions of the church (vs. 6-9).  I appreciate how Peter acknowledges that there is trials and grief going on.  Some leaders may try to minimize such things.  Peter gives us insight that such trials reveal the genuineness of our faith (vs. 7).  Certainly, the end goal in all of this is the salvation that is offered to those who believe (vs. 10-12).  Question: With salvation now given, what then is our end goal?  We are to live holy lives (vs. 13-25).

Regarding application…Be Holy.  Vs. 15, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”  For many Christians, the understanding of what is means to be holy has been a bit skewed.  There seems to be a tendency of guilt surrounded around this idea of holiness.  In our weekly Bible study this past Wednesday, we discussed Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  To live holy lives we must ensure our minds are being filled with Godly things.  “Garbage in, garbage out.”  Certainly what we put into our minds can corrupt our very life.  May our hearts respond with resounding joy in the midst of our trials!  Let the joy of Christmas shine in our faces!

I Corinthians 2

Vs. 7, “No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.”  Remember, in yesterday’s chapter Paul had to address to the Corinthian church the issue of division.  They had thought they were wise, but sadly, they were using worldly wisdom.  Paul uses himself as an illustration of the humility it takes to preach the Gospel (vs. 1-5).  Before Paul had come to Corinth, he had to address the Greek philosopher’s in Athens and wanted to ensure that the Gospel not be watered down by his own persuasive words.  There is a deep wisdom through the Holy Spirit (vs. 10) that can only be given to believers.  This is the secret wisdom that Paul referred to in our aforementioned verse (vs. 7).  Paul expounds upon the foundation of the Holy Spirit being the source of wisdom and enlightening our hearts (vs. 12-13).  Paul contrasts two things: a person without the Spirit and the one with the Spirit (vs. 14-16)

Regarding application…Knowing God Deeper.  Vs. 10, “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”  Question: Do you want to know God?  This can seem like an obvious answer.  When I met my wife before marriage, it was my goal to get to know her own a deeper level.  It wasn’t an obligation, but rather a true desire in my heart.  We are reminded that God loves us (John 3:16), and that we love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  When we possess a love that comes from God, we would naturally want to know Him more.  Question: Do you want to know God more/deeper?  I suspect that if you are even reading this, you have a desire to know God deeper.  That is why the church is there to help us know Him deeper.  Reading the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship, etc…are all things that can help us know Him more.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you the wisdom of the deeper things of God.

I Corinthians 1

Vs. 2, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.”  The Corinthian church was probably comprised of several small house churches, but Paul writes to them as a collective whole (vs. 2).  Paul takes the time for a gracious greeting to encourage and thank them from the onset (vs. 1-9).  Paul sets an example for the church today that though we too have problems, we should not forget the good things and affirm them too.  As we venture into Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we will see all sorts of things that Paul needs to correct, but the first and major issue is division (vs. 10-17).  Most of you reading this will be able to know this all too well in your own experiences in the local church.  The Corinthian Christians were aligning themselves with different leaders.  It wasn’t necessarily that the leaders were in contention with each other, but that the believers were favoring one above the other.  Some scholars have speculated perhaps they were favoring the leaders who had brought them to salvation or baptized them.  In the latter half our chapter, Paul continues to refer to the divisions by addressing the fact that the Corinthians were using worldly wisdom (vs. 18-25).  Corinth was a multi-cultured city with both Jews and Greeks.  The Jews had a hard time wrestling with the fact that the Messiah had to die on the cross.  The Greeks had a hard time because of the fact that Greek philosophy was very respected at that time.  In the end, it was human thought and wisdom that was being put before the truth of the Gospel.

Regarding application…Are You a Fool?  Vs. 18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  The Greek word that Paul used is μωρία which is pronounced (mōria) and we get the modern day word ‘moron’ from it.  Are you a moria?  Are you moron?  Are you a fool?  This message of the cross certainly does not make sense in any human logical rationale.  Yet, there are many fools who are walking down the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  For us today, we can act like fools when we allow divisions to take precedence over the message of the cross.  Let us be part of the solution not part of the problem.  Question: Is there any division in your family or in your church?  I exhort you to pray and humble yourself and seek God’s guidance.

 

I Peter 1

Vs. 23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”  Peter exhorts us all on how to live in this crazy world.  We have hope we hold onto that literally is “living” and grows (Vs. 3)…not just a living, but also a lasting hope!  This hope leads to faith…a faith that is not tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.  Hope also should lead us to live a life of holiness (Vs. 13-21).  Such a simple word, but so hard to live by.  Holiness means to live “set apart” from the world.  Remember, if we are not “set apart” from the world, that means we are putting the world first and that translates into “hatred towards God.”  Let’s let God’s enduring Word change these wretched hearts of ours.\

Regarding application…How are Christians to Love?  Vs. 22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”  Answer: Love deeply from the heart!  Question: How do we love sincerely and deeply?  Answer: Obey God’s Word/Truth!  Do you see where this is going?  We cannot love sincerely & deeply if we are not rooted in God’s Word!  We may be able to grasp a little of what love is…but in order to live and love the church & its people…we must first walk daily with Jesus.  We cannot seperate obedience & love.  It’s preposterous to hear some Christians talk about modern day “Legalism” and how we should just love each other.  This life is not a “free pass” to Heaven when it comes to life on earth before eternity!  We are called to take up the cross of suffering & shame.  Question: Are you loving your brothers & sisters deeply?