I've decided for my weekly post I'll take each day's reading and either highlight a verse and talk about it, or highlight a concept.
Sunday- 1 Peter 5 " " (v. 1-5)
I rarely see a church that operates this way. That is, too often I see the leaders of the church trying to lead by "compulsion" ('I say, you must do' attitude) and being dismissive of the contributions of others if they don't align with their "vision" for the way things should go. At the same time it must be acknowledged that in every church, even those with mature and wise elders in Christ, there are always younger Christians who refuse to listen or be subject to the elders. And I think the issue is often that after dealing with many of these un-humble younger Christians the elders get jaded and treat many who are not trying to oppose the leader as if they are, and seeds of discord get sown.
With that in mind, we should all extend more grace. Christ can and does promise to change us all. So we shouldn't let the past dictate how we treat people in the present, but instead always be open to listening to other Christians, all of us, elder and non-elder alike. Because all of us have the same Spirit and access to the same mind of Christ and therefore God can use us all. Who knows what blessings we're missing out on when we allow these things to cause barriers between us?
Monday- 2 Peter 1 "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" (v.1)
Did you get that?
By your faith, through the righteousness of Jesus you have an equal standing with Peter before God.
When I was a child I remember my teachers in like vacation Bible school and Sunday School objecting to some of the things I said saying stuff like "What, do you think you're equal to St. Paul?"
Yes. That's the point!!
Humility is not putting yourself down. It is realizing the truth about yourself. The truth that apart from Jesus you are unworthy of anything... but also the truth that when you're a Christian you come IN Jesus and through Jesus are worthy of everything!
Putting yourself down and acting as though the saints of the Bible are better than you in some way (aside from Jesus of course) is missing the point of the gospel and His message of salvation. It is not humility, it is false humility.
Even St. Peter himself says here that if you have faith in Christ, you are on equal standing with him and the other apostles. Believe it!
Tuesday- 2 Peter 2 " " (v. 1-3)
These false prophets and teachers exist today. I can think of some examples, but I don't want to go into that. Instead think to yourself: what is their motive? Are they committing sensual acts? (Think of cult leaders that call themselves prophets and then take any woman follower they want as 'wives.') Are they getting rich off of this ministry? (Think of televangelists who sell books and ask for donations all the while preaching a vague, feel good message instead of the hard truths of the gospel.) It's all around us and you may even know some people being swayed by them.
Especially in the case of popular "celebrity" pastors, examine and test them. If they are truly called by God, they wouldn't be offended because He clearly says to test everything. If anything seems suspect, stop listening to them. Don't condemn or judge them- maybe you're wrong and you either misunderstand what they're saying or maybe they just made a mistake in interpreting something and later will be corrected by the Spirit. Don't ever judge them. But do steer away from them, because especially if you have the access to the internet it takes to read this blog you have myriads of resources at your fingertips and you don't need to hear from a teacher you're not sure you trust. Let the Spirit guide you in prayer on that.
Also don't get militant about it. The Spirit may lead you away from a teacher simply because He wants to guide you elsewhere, and not because of the teacher's teachings. If then your friend starts listening to that person, well perhaps the Spirit has something for them there. You may even consider re-examing them at a future time, for perhaps it was not that they are a false teacher but simply God knows you needed a log or two taken out of your eye before you could see what they are saying clearly. But if you think there is false teaching there, you can introduce your friend to your testings- "I steered away from them because they said 'x' and I think that contradicts what God says in book chapter verse" and see if they reach the conclusions you do... however, fear God enough that you don't explode at them "So and So is a FALSE TEACHER and you need to STEER AWAY" because what if the error is not the teacher's, but instead your own, and you attacking the work of God in them?
I will say fear the Lord in this though and if you feel Him calling you to speak out against someone, obviously obey Him and not my advice. But unless you feel that specific calling, I would avoid it because what if you are speaking out against His child without realizing it?
Wednesday- 2 Peter 3 "T " (v. 9 &10)
This is just such an awe inspiring message. Who knows when the day of the Lord shall be? We should thank God for His mercy in being "slow" to come, and not ever doubt that He will come just because He's merciful.
Thursday- 1 John 1 "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (v.5)
My favorite hymn has that in it ("In Him there is no darkness at all, the night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the City of God, Shine in our hearts dear Jesus.") :)
But also this is such an essential Truth to grasp. I remember it being like, well like a lightbulb coming on and illuminating the Truth in every aspect of life. God is ALL good and there is NO darkness in Him. You get it?
So often we think of God as we think of people. We hold him to our standards. We think "if God does X" or "if God allows X" then what does that say about Him? We may even take it to a dangerous level and say "I don't want a God who does or allows X!" and set ourselves up to be judging God.
But when you grasp that God is ALL good then you realize two things about the way we see the world, the way we see God, and the Truth.
That is, in some ways when you don't like something God has said, done, or allowed you misunderstand who God is. For example, God does not do evil or have evil in Him. So when you see an evil doer you're not seeing the work of God, you're seeing sin. What you have attributed to God is not God, but is the direct result of rejecting God. Sin is something contrary to God's will.
At the same time, sometimes when you don't like something God has said, done, or allowed you have misunderstood what good is. For example if something is declared to be sin, but you enjoy doing it or perhaps just don't understand the harm in someone doing it, you might think God is the bad one for saying it is contrary to His will. Instead, this is where humility comes in, and you have to say "My Lord and God, I do not understand how that is a sin, but you say it is, and so I submit to you knowing that you are perfect and in you there is no darkness at all, so it is not you are are dark, but my understanding."
Friday- 1 John 2 "But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him." (v.27)
This is something that many fail to grasp. Christians do not need a teacher. Now you might be thinking but Christ calls "some to be teachers" and that's totally true. But it is the Holy Spirit in the Christian that highlights the teaching of the teacher and actually does the teaching. Too often Christians who are called to teach try to take the teaching away from the Holy Spirit. The Christians they are teaching will bring up something that the Holy Spirit highlighted for them and the teacher will steer it away, because it's not on their agenda. Or they'll approach the teaching as if it's the secular teaching that happens in a school, outlining points to know, memory verses, etc without actually praying or getting to the heart of anything. It's an academic exercise, not a spiritual feeding.
At the same time, many Christians who are being taught approach the teachers called by God in the wrong manner. They do this one of two ways. They either treat them as God ("Well maybe the Bible says that but my pastor said" or "I heard from this famous Christian on the radio that") or they forget they are called by God ("Well maybe that's Biblical, but I'd rather hear about") and in both of these ways false teachers can creep in. Which is what Peter is trying to talk about here.
One last fallacy that also happens is the idea that the only place God speaks is through the appointed teacher/teachers. For example I know of church small groups that think the only topic of conversation when they get to fellowship should directly relate back to the sermon the past Sunday. While you can certainly bring up that common hour or so experience of the group and see if God spoke to someone through the pastor's words, it's a total imbalance to ignore the other 167 hours of the week that God might have spoken to someone in the group!
The truth is that no teacher on earth has the authority of the Teacher inside the Christian. Respect and listen to teachers, but always test everything they say. And also listen to God even when man is not around. Often the biggest lessons we learn is through our private time with Him. But when you try to share with some Christians, they will ignore you because they think that lacks "authority." They do not understand that God is greater than man.
Saturday- 1 John 3 "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." v.2
What a wonderful promise! When we see God as He is, our impurities will all be abolished, for gazing on God eradicates them. This is why Christ came! This is why Moses did not get to see God when he asked but only His "back". If we are not born again, we are bound to sin and unrighteousness is a part of us, woven into our being. Therefore in the full out presence of God we would be destroyed. But when we are born of God, the part of us that is saved to eternity is made of Him and when we see Christ it will be a purification, like the dross being burned off the golden ore, so only pure gold remains. And then we will be purely righteous, transformed. That promise is sure and true!