They Push Hard

3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. 1 Peter 4:3-6

Peter laid out the truth to his audience. While others may not actively recruit you into their lifestyle, the culture (commercials, television, social media, movies) can certainly push hard. You notice this especially when you go out of the country for a year or more, and return. What you would never watch and laugh about on television is accepted and sometimes embraced. The downward move is subtle and almost unnoticeable, but it is there.

The answer isn’t to hide out in the woods until the Lord returns, though some have done that.

The answer is to engage the culture instead of just absorbing it.

Challenge fellow Believers about what they watch when they watch it. Ask the tough questions. In that light, though, be prepared to answer the tough questions too, the same questions you’re asking of others.

If we are to make an impact on just one person, our standards should be high but not attainable. Of course we need the Holy Spirit’s help to attain these standards, but we also need each other.

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Doing the Will of God

2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:2

When you’ve tasted the best foods in the world, mere hamburgers and french fries just don’t satisfy. When we become Believers, we get a taste of eternal joy and peace. We get a glimpse of heaven and begin wondering about it. We see things differently. We have a renewed sense of destiny and purpose.

But that was years ago. How are things now? Are you as excited about heavenly thing as you once were? Do you long for the day when you see Jesus face to face or do you dread that day?

Life happens. Things change. People change. As we mature, our emotions settle down and we can make calm and rash decisions. Our excitement turns to contentment. It’s how this life is supposed to be lived. It doesn’t always happen like that.

Recall that even while Jesus prayed to not go through with the crucifixion, and even as he hung there, he asked for God’s will to be done in the matter. That is extremely important to remember because even a member of the Godhead wanted and needed to do the will of God. And that’s what we should be living for.

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Should Suffering Be the Christian Norm?

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 1 Peter 4:1

Every day we hear about Christians being persecuted. They are imprisoned and beaten, and are often forced to recant their faith or die. This is not an exaggeration. We are sheltered from most of this living in the West. You can bet that anywhere Christ is not allowed to be preached there is persecution for those who do. Sometimes it seems like a broken record, but it’s real and current. It’s not pleasant and is certainly not the feel-good, let’s-win-one-for-Christ devotional.

And yet it is.

You see, while we are having morning devotionals, men, women, and children around the world are living out their faith in a very real way. They have armed themselves with Christ’s attitude about suffering. They don’t like suffering but accept it as part of their faith.

We have an opportunity to bless the Persecuted Church. We don’t or won’t know their names. That’s for their safety. But just as real as you are reading this, they are laying down their lives for the sake of Christ.

I am reposting the list of countries and ares that are now persecuting Christians:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Chiapas, Mexico
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gaza and the West Bank
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mindanao, Philippines
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tibet (China)
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Choose one of the countries above and pray for pastors, lay leaders, and families as they present the Gospel in meaningful ways.

As far as the title of this post, that will be something you will have to answer on your own.

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On the Throne

19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3:19-22

This is a mysterious Bible passage for most scholars. Hundreds of books have been written about its interpretation. We will explore the overall meaning of the passage rather than dwell on specific interpretations.

Without question we know that Jesus is at the Right Hand of God, and all powers and authorities are in submission to Him right now as I write this and as you read this. That is not debatable or in question. It’s a truth we need to embrace the more our lives get complicated. It’s actually the hope we have after this life is over.

But it’s also a truth we need to remember today when life is tough.

He is on the throne.

He is in control.

He is calling the shots.

And we can come to Him at any moment of the day.

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To Bring Us to God

17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 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. 1 Peter 3:17-18

Peter summed up the reason Christ suffered for us: to bring us to God. That suffering came at a great cost, Christ’s death. I’m still in awe over the notion that He suffered for us. Why us? What did we do to deserve it?

That’s the point, isn’t it? We didn’t do anything to deserve it. His grace was free and His mercy was infinite.

He did it all for us but it’s not about us. It’s all about Him.

It’s impossible to comprehend, though it certainly doesn’t hurt us trying to put it together. Asking questions helps us make sense of unsensable things.

So he suffered for us. That’s all we need to know about His character today. Tomorrow it’ll be something equally as fascinating.

Glory be!

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In Your Hearts Revere Christ as Lord

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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

The first thing that came to mind when I read this verse is, are people coming up to me to ask about the hope I have in me? Perhaps a broader question is, why would they? What would cause them to reach out to you and me like this?

The answer is simple really.

It’s Christ shining through us. It’s what we say (or don’t say), what we do (or don’t do), and our attitudes towards others. How are we different without being obnoxious or weird?

How is Christ shining through you?

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Life Totally Isn’t Fair

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:13-14

Peter was telling his readers that they would probably be persecuted for their faith. Suffering is difficult. Nobody likes to see it or experience it, especially if it’s wrongfully administered. In fact, we often say that “life isn’t fair,” and that’s totally correct. It never is. But it happens, and it happens to everyone. What we do with it is as important as experiencing it.

As I just mentioned, we all experience suffering to varying degrees. We’re not alone. When it’s in relation to our faith, we are certainly not alone. Millions have gone before us under intense persecution, and perhaps hundreds of thousands are undergoing persecution even as you read this. Persecution is not new, nor is it fun to experience.

Voice of the Martyrs not that the following areas of the world that are experiencing persecution:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Chiapas, Mexico
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gaza and the West Bank
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mindanao, Philippines
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tibet (China)
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Run down that list, and pick a country to pray for its pastors and those being persecuted for their faith. Pray as if their life depends on it, because in many situations, that’s the truth.

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Smiling or Frowning Down on Us?

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12

Even though this was a common way of writing in the Book of Proverbs, don’t miss its significance. The first part of the verse gives us insight into the spirit world. God desires to commune with us. He wants us to pray and talk to Him about the important and the mundane. The last part of the verse should be a wake up call for sinners and saints alike. Even though He turns away from the deeds of the wicked, He still knows what happens. He remembers so, even though someone got away with a heinous act right now, it will be punished in due time. It’s not a great answer to sin from our perspective, but God is just. Justice will prevail.

So, does God smile down on you or turn His face from you?

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Words and Actions Mean Things

10 For, “Whoever would love life
and see good days must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11

Peter quoted the Book of Proverbs passages here to bring home the point of the previous verses: blessing can come in a number of different ways. The things we do and the things we don’t do are equally important. Words and actions mean things. Silence and inaction also mean things. The trick is knowing when to use or refrain from both.

Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit who can help us discern when to do something and when to do nothing. He wants to help us, but we have to reach out to Him for that help.

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