17 posts categorized "Books of Peter"

Politics Part II

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSo, ya, I’m a glutton for punishment as I’m going to talk about politics AGAIN! *Sheesh*

Let’s look at the next truth as it applies to our homes, marriage and politics. This next one is a biggie!

Two: God doesn’t need to be defended.

So, I’m not sure if you relate to this but in our early years of marriage, I felt it was my duty to defend God and His ways to my husband. It was as though, I had to stand for righteousness and point out the error of my husband’s ways and strive unto exhaustion to convince him to change his beliefs and political views.

Anyone????

Oh SUMers, what a relief to hand that burden over to Jesus. I think so many of us have labored through that messy minefield. We can’t save our husbands – at A L L. That job belongs to Jesus. Hallelujah!

If you just read this and feel as though you have been stuck in the badlands trying to convince your husband the error of his ways, well, today is YOUR FREEDOM DAY. Pray with me.

Lord Jesus, I’m sorry I have taken on the burden to save my husband/wife. I repent and I ask your forgiveness. Today Lord Jesus, I step out of the way and I surrender my spouse over to you. I know that when I pray within your will, you answer. And I know that it is your will that no person should perish. That’s your Word in 2 Peter 3:9.

Jesus, I place the full burden into your capable hands and I ask you to move quickly to save my spouse. Reveal your love and purposes to her/him. Keep him from the deceptions and lies of the demonic and bring him into the truth and grace of heaven. In your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN

Okay, if you just prayed this prayer I want you to leave your spouse’s name in the comments along with a hardy, AMEN, and anything else you believe you want to state in writing into the heavenly realm. I’m believing for us right now that writing our spouse’s name and a prayer over them is symbolic of our united prayers for that person. And I’m asking now that the Lord moves in power with angelic assignments over these prayers.

So right now, I state a hardy and loud. AMEN over Mike Donovan for his full salvation and receiving of the Holy Spirit, even now Lord, today. AMEN

Okay, what say you? See you in the comments. I love you SUMite Nation. You ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I have more to share on this topic. Stay tuned.) 

I heart you SUM Nation. Have a really great day! Hugs, Lynn

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Do You Need Healing? The Books Of Peter - Suffering & Healing

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHe himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed." -1 Peter 3:24

Dineen and I chatted this morning about this very thing, our thoughts centered on Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah 61 1The Bible is clear that we will endure suffering. The books of Peter have many passages but the suffering that every believer can expect to endure is also what Jesus suffered - persecution of our faith. Believers can also suffered due to our own stubbornness, pride, and fear which can lead to poor choices. Fear and agreement with the enemy’s lies provides a chink in our armor and access to our person. Example: Bitterness, if bitterness dwells in our heart for very long, it can affect us physically in all manner of illnesses. (We become prisoners.)

Additionally, This fact is utterly unfair and difficult, however we can often be victims of other's who sin against us (captives). See the verse in the photo <---.

There are exceptions to this generality, over course, such as accidents and more. My dear SUM family, Jesus came to give us life, set us free, heal our wounds, diseases, and give us a life of abundance. The enemy does everything to kill, steal, and destroy.

Peter walked in a powerful healing ability. I’ve been reading his accounts of healing in Acts. Today I was reading the story of how he prayed and Tabitha was raised from the dead. Wow! That is why he is reminding us to follow Jesus command: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. —Matthew 10:8

He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” — 1 Peter 2:24

So let’s talk today about healing.

There was a post in the comments from Lisa a few weeks ago. It’s powerful and adds insight into this part of the study of healing. Thanks Lisa:

What hit me again this morning was how being saved (Hebrew word "Sozo") is not a onetime decision but rather an on-going process.

Being saved (sozo) doesn’t only mean forgiveness of sins, but includes healing of the body, deliverance, and prosperity too. Unfortunately many Christians have interpreted salvation only to be forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of our sins is certainly the centerpiece, however, at the same time Christ died to purchase our redemption from sin, He also freed us from sickness, disease, depression, and poverty.

Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, God has provided everything we need in this life and in the life to come—forgiveness of sins, healing, deliverance, and prosperity. However, the way we receive this, is through faith, obedience and humility and that my friends comes over time as we walk daily with our God ;-) HE is so amazingly good!

Let’s hear your thoughts about healing. If you are contending for healing in your body, heart, soul or in any area, leave a comments and let’s pray for one another. Remember I believe in physical healing because I’ve been miraculously healed. (Listen to my testimony in the video in the sidebar.) I have prayed for people with cancer and other physical illness and watched Jesus heal them before my eyes. 

Our prayers can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. If you need healing for anything, leave your request int he comments. 

Jesus you were tortured and died for our healing. We will not waste your sacrifice the price was way too high. We love you and pray that our healing will be a powerful testimony of Your love, power and hope for this lost world. In Your powerful name. Amen

I love you my SUMite Family. Hugs, Lynn

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Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Wednesday we talked about how it was Peter’s intent to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers, to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above disagreements and insults. 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13

I also proposed that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not, and that what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now. Launching from the truths I listed on Wednesday of what we have learned and are learning in our mismatched marriages, we can:

  • seek unity with those we encounter everyday, not to adjust our beliefs but show freedom of choice as God has given us and therefore show others they too have the freedom to choose Jesus, and not feel forced.
  • love others unconditionally with tenderness and humility so they catch a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for and acceptance of them just as they are. They don’t have to clean up their act first to earn salvation.
  • use our words to bring encouragement and love to those who need it and as we do this and earn their trust, we can speak the truth of Jesus into their lives in that same love.
  • practice hospitality so that others may see what a home filled with the peace of Christ looks and feels like.
  • stand before our God and lift up the ones we know need Him and ask the Lord to bring His presence and help.
  • be alert to opportunities to help others with whatever resources we have. God always seems to provide exactly what is needed for the present situation. Remember the fish and loaves. Look at what you do have and how you can use it help. God will multiply it.
  • be a blessing everywhere you go. At the grocery store, on the phone with the insurance company representative (that’s a challenging one for me!), at your child’s school, at church, shopping at the mall, at the restaurants you frequent. Even at the park or playground. Smiles and kind greetings open doors of opportunity for us to show Jesus. Most likely it won’t happen the very first time, but the more we do it, the more those divine appointments will present themselves and we’ll be ready. 

My friends, I am so moved to seek Abba for this place of security. I want to live what I picture in my mind. That when I am faced with opposition to my belief in Jesus and His Word, I can share the truth in love without feeling threatened or defensive, so that the other person will feel unthreatened and even shocked by what they see. As they see Jesus in me.

There is one final part to this, my friends, that I feel compelled to share. This place of security must be grounded in humility. As Peter says, “a humble mind.” The Greek translation uses only one word for this phrase, philophrōn, and it means to act kindly from a mind-set of personal affection.

For if pride enters in any way, then we become that clanging cymbal, because pride crowds out love. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. — 1 Cor. 13:1

It is a fine line that we walk, my friends, but we have a great big God who equips and guides His kids well. The beauty of this has become my simplest prayer of simply living authentic faith. As we reach the end of our study of Peter, let’s pray it together.

Lord, help us be the people You created to be so that by just being who we are and secure in Whose we are, we show our pre-believers, our children and the world Your Son Jesus. In His saving name we pray, amen.

We live it. He does it. This is the kingdom of God on Earth.

Standing with you, my friends!
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Submission - The Books of Peter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. —1 Peter 3:1-6

When I was a young wife, this passage raised my hackles. But as I have now lived more than two decades with my unbelieving spouse, I testify to the power and truth behind this wisdom.

I know that there remains great confusion in the “church” over what Peter intends here. I’ve known women who were told to submit to men who were abusive and evil. Although I think in general, church leadership has steered away from this kind of demand in the past decade. I know that within homes, especially marriages of the unequally yoked, husbands have quoted this verse to their believing wives in order to manipulate and control them. Let me be clear, if a man quotes this to his wife he is speaking out of fear and arrogance. His intent is not love but to control.

A husband of integrity would never need to speak this verse to his wife. And a wife should never acquiesce to a man who holds scripture over her to control her. And wives you don’t get off easy either. Mutual respect and love should reign supreme in your relationship and thus a husband would never think of manipulating his wife in such a way. Love and respect must be the core of every marriage. Of course, people aren’t perfect and most of us are somewhere on the path learning to love and respect our spouse well.

Reading back through 1 Peter 3, I can only offer what I have learned in the two plus decades that I have tried to apply this passage to my life. Trying to win my husband with my words of confrontation, condemnation, conviction, manipulation, fear, and begging, well….. it just doesn’t work. Period. The end.

You know what works? The behavior of purity and reverence of my life. What does that look like? Well, my husband CANNOT deny that I believe. He sees the hours I spend with my Lord. He has witnessed my years of praying for him and our family. He sees that I am clothed with hope. He sees that I possess a relentless well spring of joy and that I am a person of profound faith.

I am adorned with a grace that allows me to forgive the unforgivable and I have modeled that to him and our children. I have been honored with an unfading beauty which is the Spirit of the Living God. My husband may not understand it, but our home is a peaceful place. It is a sanctuary that allows him, our children and myself to live authentically. I have friends who call and want to visit just because our house is and I quote, “so peaceful.” My faith changes the atmosphere of my home and often improves the atmosphere wherever I go. (More stories for another day)

I have willingly laid down many dreams and hopes in support of this one man because God said he is worth it. I’ve cried at times and then I’ve prayed with power. I’ve lived the best that I can within the love and power of Jesus. I have adorned myself with humility, most of the time *grin*, and have done the right thing by loving him with a full heart. The dreams I had as a young wife may have been lost but in return God has given me abundantly more than I could have hoped, conceived or dreamed. And God is not finished yet.

At the end of this particular passage Peter urges wives to do what is right and when we do, we will walk in the legacy of Godly women who have gone before us. How beautiful is that? I want to pass this legacy on to my daughter.

And finally Peter says, “Do not give way to fear.”

Submission is not fear. Submission is love and respect. And by the way, it goes both ways between a husband and a wife. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: Submission is meeting the needs of our spouse. As a believer it means meeting his/her needs even when yours remain unmet. But do not fear because over time, just like me, you will discover that your husband  will begin to meet your needs and he will treat you with respect because you modeled it first. And my dear wives, if there are needs in your heart that are never met by your earthly husband, Jesus will more than meet them all.

I leave you now with a story of ultimate submission. I pray this story wrecks you in every good way because this man's submission was for us:

Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wives, do not fear, let Christ raise you up. Because when He does, your husband will fall to his knees and acknowledge that you were right all along and he will proclaim that Jesus is Lord! Never stop praying. Never stop hoping and never stop re-presenting Christ in your marriage, home, family and to the world!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com Winninghim

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The Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wi

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT

My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.

As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question. 

What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.

It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2

David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.

I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.

Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways. 

Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.

In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to: 

  • seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
  • love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
  • hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
  • bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
  • stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
  • be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
  • be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.

No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say. 

It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.

I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!

Love you, my friends. So thankful to be living this life with you!
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Prepared To Give An Answer - The Books of Peter

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.—1 Peter 3:13-16

Reading through Peter a few weeks ago, I came to this passage. And immediately I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pose this question to all of you.

What is your answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have?

This is our testimony. If you had two minutes to share your hope, WHY you hope, with someone what would you answer?

In my early faith years I believed I didn’t have a testimony. That is a lie. EVERYONE has a testimony of God’s love, provision, faithfulness and grace. Today share yours in four paragraphs or less.

My friends, take time to do this. Write it out. Record it here in the comments. It’s a permanent record of your written words. This is a moment to bring glory and honor to God. And it’s a moment where your SUM family join to praise and worship the Lord for His goodness and love in your life.

See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

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2 Peter 3: God Waits Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiSo happy to be with you today, my friends. I love our community. We are family and live daily the truths of Jesus Christ together. Lynn and I love our S.U.M. family so much. You all amaze and bless us everyday in how you love and pray for each other. And for us! Just wow…my heart is so full of pride in you, if I may say that. And I sense what I’m feeling is coming from our Papa God’s heart. He is proud of us, SUMites. We are known by our love. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. — John 13:34-35

As we continue our Summer Bible Study in the books of Peter, I found myself this week at the end of these two books, and felt the Holy Spirit pointing to two verses that are precious for us, SUMites.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9

I think we all struggle with waiting. We wonder. We pray. We wait some more… But this verse shows our Abba Father’s heart. He wants everyone to repent and will go to great lengths to give our pre-believers every chance to change their mind and turn to God. And that is what this word repentance means in the Greek: metanoia—reversal of decision.

This past year the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for divine connections for my hubby. Not with people but in his work and surroundings, whether he’s wrangling code (he’s a computer programmer/analyst) or playing disc golf. That he would begin to see God’s presence and perfection as the real explanation for what he appreciates intellectually. I never would have thought of that, my friends.

IMG_3734
This was my dad's Bible. I'm holding onto it for the day when I can give it to my hubby.

And then the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for holes, literal holes, to be punched in my hubby’s unbelief so that these connections can be revealed. Again, not something I would have thought of. 

What’s my point in telling you this? I will tell you what I told someone else recently as an explanation of my confidence that God will move and do this in my husband. 

Why would God lead me to pray in such specific ways and not doing anything? I know my God and know His heart. And His heart is to be patient and wait. Just as we wait…

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— — 2 Peter 3:15

Our Lord waits for good reason, doesn’t He? So if His waiting is good, I can’t help but think that ours is good too. In moments of discouragement, this gives me great peace and comfort, my friends. I see no change in my husband (yet) and I’m approaching 20 years of being mismatched.

But in our waiting God accomplishes so much. So much! I look at my marriage and see what it could have easily become and am overwhelmed by what it is—truly blessed by God. And I look at you, this community and the love and encouragement we share and I SEE evidence of the good God is working out for us as we wait.

The Holy Spirit has stirred my heart to speak out loud every morning the truth of Psalm 118:24: 

“This is a day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

And every day, I see Him. Our God is so good, my friends. SO good.

Love you so much, my SUM family. You are all so precious.
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The Pit - The Books of Peter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday's study post comes from Sumite, Pam O. Thanks Pam for your great words of encouragement. 

SUMites, our community is, and has been, under a lot persecution.  I just recently posted some of my woes on this forum.  It is so uplifting to receive words of encouragement from others in the battlefield.  However, the Lord has placed these thoughts and words on my heart and I hope you don’t mind if I share these insights with you. 

It started with a passage from John 12:27 where Jesus is in the Garden and struggling with what lies ahead.  He says, 

“Now my soul is deeply troubled.  Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” 

These words just jumped off the page at me.  In essence, why am I praying to be delivered from the very reason God put me here? 

In contrast to my thinking, Jesus submitted to the Father’s will.   His mission was to advance the Kingdom. He did not waver in fulfilling the purpose for which he came. 

I find myself too often praying in earnest to be delivered from the pit instead of stopping to look around the pit.  What is it in the pit that I need to see, what is it that I need to learn, what did I not learn the first time?  

Is being in the pit about me at all or does it serve the advancement of the Kingdom.  Is my pre-believer, my children, co-workers, small group members, or online community watching me during my time in the pit and do I reflect the fruits of the spirit.  While the pit is no surprise for God, I still find myself questioning, “How did I get here”, “Why am I in the pit?” and “Why am I in the pit and (s)he isn’t”? 

How can I speak of having faith, perseverance, humility, and obedience without having any firsthand knowledge of being in the pit or knowing how it feels to be pulled out of it?

Do I say I am a follower of Jesus, but only as far as the edge of the pit? Am I truly willing to follow his example and die to myself to advance his Kingdom? Do I not trust that he knows how stinky, unjust and painful it is in the pit? 

The image of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father with nail pierced hands has humbled me, and I am reminded of this verse from our study of I Peter 5:10. 

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 

Yes, I am in the pit.  Yes, God knows I’m in the pit and has been preparing me for this time here.  Yes, Jesus has gone before us and has paved the way.  He has come out victorious and fulfilled his purpose.  

After this downloading from the Holy Spirit, I have a different outlook on being in the pit.  Although it is not a fun place to be and I don’t want to live here, I will not be in as big a hurry to leave it.  I’m going to sit here a while, look around and pray for God to show me what I need to see.  I am going to be more willing to be in the pit for the advancement of His kingdom and not the advancement of my kingdom. I am putting my full Faith in the one who has already been in the pit and will pull me out when my mission is finished to bring honor and glory to his name.

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God Restores Us Too (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Saturday I started telling you a little bit about the dark night of the soul I walked through in 2014 and what 1 Peter 5:6-10 came to mean to me. Let’s look at those verses again and I’ll finish my story.

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. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

As I said, Peters says to give God all our anxieties. And that’s where I was, in the depths of anxiety that made no sense. I would wake up shaking and spend most of the morning just trying to get a grip on my life for that one day. My quiet time with Abba was my refuge and sanctuary (my word for 2015), and worship became a weapon against the evil plan the enemy had sent against me to pull me into depression—a plague that has sickened several generations in my family. Psalm 91 became my daily declaration!

When my anxiety and depression would threaten to overwhelm me, I would stop and pray 1 Peter 5:6-7 and imagine all that dark stuff sitting my hands, then I’d lift them up and say, “Lord, it’s all Yours. I give it all to You. I am casting all this upon You.”

And you know what? He always had something to give back to me—His peace and comfort. And we need those, my friends. The peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), which is crucial if we are to “be sober minded.” That word in the Greek means to be calm and collected in spirit. As Peter says, the enemy prowls, seeking to devour. And he will use our emotions against us every way he can. And that is what he tried to do with me. The lie I’d bought into as a teenager was that I was at the mercy of my thoughts and feelings, but God’s Word says otherwise. 

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. — Romans 8:6 NLT

I stood on this truth and the others I’ve shared everyday, dear friends. Our greatest challenge, especially as women, is to look at our emotions first before we act upon them. If we don’t, we are just reacting. Then our emotions control us instead of us controlling and using them to our benefit. Emotions can be good in telling us when we are hurting and need something. They can also alert us to a lie we are believing when they seem out of context or alignment with God’s truth. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this process.

And finally in verse 10, Peter returns to the promise he started describing in verses six and seven. After we have suffered a little while…that’s the hardest part, to endure, to persevere, to trust God has a plan for it all and that He is good and that He is working for our good (Romans 8:28). Because He is. That’s Who He is. Always.

Then that good comes, the good God has been working to bring out of our trials, our suffering, our challenges. He does not leave us in these places of pain. No, His heart is to Himself, by His hand of love, to restore us. To confirm, strengthen and establish us. The Greek word for restore also means to perfect and prepare. Sound familiar? And by establishing us, He is laying our true foundation in the truth of who we are in Him, in the truth of Christ. 

So from our sufferings, trials and challenges, we emerge more like the new creation He has made us to be. And that is what I have witnessed, my dear friends. I prayed and claimed these promises for over a year, tentative at first and then with growing confidence, until they became part of the established foundation of my faith. And as I have broken this “plague” off my life, I am contending and breaking it off of my daughters. Because as the enemy has lost hold of me, he has tried to insert his hold on my girls. That is NOT going to happen, because I now have the authority to speak these truths into their lives.

How do I know that? As I stood in my new church in January, worshiping God with a heart full of gratitude for how He has restored and is restoring my life, how He has and is making me steadfast, strong and firm in my faith that is now built on His truth and promises, His still small voice spoke to my heart and told me He was lifting me up that very day. And that it was time to soar. Just this past weekend, three different times He showed me a bird soaring in the sky, at the same speed and direction as the car I was in or driving.  

When I look back at all He has done, I am astounded. It could have gone very differently if I hadn’t humbled myself under His hand and trusted Him. I stepped out in what felt like a feeble and failing faith, and He met me with His faithfulness, His healing presence and sent key people to come along side and pray with me. Especially Lynn, who prayed with me, cried with me, and encouraged me greatly. 

SUMites, these promises are for all of us. Just as Jesus restored Peter, He restores us. Whatever you are struggling, battling, agonizing over, cast it upon Him. Our Great God has massive shoulders that can carry it all. And what’s so beautiful is that He WANTS us to do this. Longs for us to do this. Our God is completely for us (Romans 8:31-32)!

My friends, I have been praying these prayers for you too as I know many of you are in very difficult places right now. Share in the comments how you are casting your cares upon the Lord. I would like to pray with you and pass on the blessings and freedom Abba has given to me.

Love you!
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God Restores Us Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, today I want to talk about a part of 1 Peter that has been very powerful in my life. It is a truth that God proved to me over the course of a year and a half, and is in fact, still showing me. What I’m about to share with you has been powerful and life-changing. It proved to me that I truly could stand on God’s Word and trust Him to do what He says. Even if I didn’t completely feel I could believe the promise, I stepped out in faith with a heart desire to fully believe it. Astonishingly, God honored my action with astounding faithfulness.

I’ve shared in the past how difficult 2014 was for me. Health issues combined with a very real battle for my mind took me into a dark night of the soul, a spiritual battle, that God allowed in order to get rid of the lies the enemy had subtly inflicted upon me from a young age. God replaced them with His truth and has healed so many of those heartaches. I share more of this journey in the book I’m working on and what God did to bring healing and transformation. But one part I want to share today as part of our study of the books of Peter.

During the most difficult part of what I walked through, Abba brought me to this verse among many to write in my journal, to read over and over again and to pray and claim the truth over my life. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 NIV

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. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

These verses became a lifeline of hope for me. And I want to share them with you. The first part, Peter says to humble yourself. I knew God was my only way to get through what I was dealing with. I wanted this time of trial to end so much, but had to trust Abba had a plan and would show me the way (Prov. 3:5-6). This was a daily effort, my friends, and I held tight to the promise that in time, God would lift me up. I prayed, spoke it out loud, and even reminded God of His promise.

I learned to give Him everything. The word “cast” in the Greek translation literally and figuratively means to throw upon. This is not a polite gesture, my friends. We are not supposed to wrap it in a bow and try to “pretty it up.” God knows what we struggle with and He cares for us, deeply. 

And Peter says all. Every heartache, every thought, every worry, every anxiety, because His Word says He cares for us. Next week I will tell you what happened when I did this. I am already praying that what I have to share will encourage you and help build your faith as Jesus intends our testimonies to do. Not easy sharing this stuff but the one thing I ask Abba at the start of this was, "If I have to go through this, then let me have a testimony to share and help others."

And that He did. He does that for all of us, dear friends! All of us!

Love you so much,
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Persecution - The Books Of Peter - Will The Church Go Underground?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSo…… Ahem, ya. (long sigh)

I planned on writing about suffering. So this week I experienced persecution, first-hand. Sheesh! Why does that always happen?

Peter shares a few common themes through his two books. Today we are going to look at suffering. Specifically let’s read:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. —1 Peter 4:14

Most of the passages within Peter’s books focus on suffering for our faith. Persecution.

Stay tuned as we will discuss suffering and physical healing next. But today, I believe we should focus on the suffering we endure because of our faith.

It’s obvious when reading through the books of Peter that he was a persecuted man. His feelings and his charge to the churches for endurance are evident. I personally believe that persecution is the only suffering that God truly expects us to experience.

For our SUMite Nation, persecution is very real. We endure a rare and difficult persecution because we face ridicule, shaming, hatred and discord within our home. We also endure persecution in the public realm.

For me, I am equipped to handle the words that come at me from the public realm, well at least, most of the time. When an ugly email arrives or people criticize me for my faith, call me "over the top", a zealot, crazy. I’m really okay. Some of these words have been uttered by close friends and even close relatives. Sometimes it hurts. I take those hurts and their lack of understanding to the feet of Jesus. He always centers me in truth and love. Therefore, I can walk forward, certain of my identity and my purpose and forgive their ridicule.

But it’s different when your faith is mocked and you are insulted or shamed by a loved one with whom you live. That happened to me with week. Ugh!!! It’s pain and it’s hard. I cried. You cry. I get it.

But even through the pain I know I’m blessed. I remain alert and of sober mind. As the enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. But I RESIST HIM. I STAND FIRM IN FAITH (truth). And I also know that the God of all grace who called me to his eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will restore me, personally and make me strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:8-10 my paraphrase)

My friends, I believe that persecution is only going to ramp up. Today, believers are unable to be honest about their beliefs in the public realm about many issues which are clear in scripture, gay marriage comes to mind, without being called out as haters. I’m not a hater. I have gay friends and I grieve that they haven’t found their identity in Jesus yet. I grieve that this particular subject brings great grief and discord into our marriages, between our children, and between close family members.

This is where persecution “gets real.” We aren’t afforded the peace and protection that other Jesus followers have within an “all-believer” home. We remain on the front lines of the battle every day, every news broadcast, every image of Bruce Jenner, every article where a bakery is shuttered because the owners hold fast to their convictions. These moments are real flash points in our homes.

Truly, we live in confusing times. The challenges to our faith are growing. It’s difficult to walk this path of righteousness. But, we walk with the King! This current tide of public opinion didn’t take Him by surprise. He isn’t up in heaven nervously tapping His fingers, pondering, O, what should we do? He is brilliant, kind, loving, filled with mercy, and unending love. He will walk us through all of this and He stands as our defender and He will bring us through the fire with a supernatural love that overcomes words of hate, misunderstanding, fear and demonic deception.

This one thing I know, 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials…..

So, my friend, I will cry with you when the words spoken by a loved one cuts through your heart. I will sigh as I watch the path toward the gates of hell grow ever wider. I will pray with never-failing energy, conviction and passion for you, your spouse, your children, our world. I pray and I pray. I trust and I believe. I stand firm and know that I know, in my knower, God is good. He is faithful to rescue, restore, and heal. Our God is able! Peace and love define Him!

And remember, if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. How amazing is that? 

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1 Peter 1 & 2: Foundations and Identity (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, I know summer is upon you and many of you are in the throws of school ending, schedules changing, and summer plans. Please know that we love that you make this place a part of your busy lives—Lynn and I are honored to be a part of your lives.

On Saturday, I left you with two questions. What was a cornerstone and Who was/is that cornerstone?

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

Peter is quoting that last part from Isaiah 28:16, which is a prophetic word about the Messiah. Jesus is the cornerstone, which references the foundation of the temples when built. Usually larger, a cornerstone was placed in the corner of the foundation to ensure the building was square and stable. The cornerstone “set the foundation,” so to speak.

Peter is very carefully connecting our identity to who Jesus is in his reference to calling us living stones with Jesus as our cornerstone. And not only that. This is about the church. Not only were people now reborn. So was the church. Living stones to build a spiritual house…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Peter has laid the ground work to bring understanding of how this all happened so that the early believers would be clear in who they were now. Their identity.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people…

And their purpose in this new church as well. No longer would it be up to priests to teach and share the message of God. All were and are now called to share the message of the Good News. Interestingly, the NLT includes a little more. Take a look at verse nine again. 

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. — 1Peter 1:9 NLT (emphasis mine)

Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12. 

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. — 1 Peter 1:12

My friends, we live with unbelieving “neighbors” every day, right in our own homes, and because of who we belong to and who God says we are, we are like that cornerstone in our own homes because Jesus lives in us. This reminds me yet again of the verse that speaks of how we sanctify our homes.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14

So, in this all encompassing plan of God that literally makes my head hurt and my heart swell when I try to comprehend it all, we were “set up” to be the children of God, precious and chosen to be the church of Christ, built upon an amazing legacy.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Eph. 2:20

Now you know that Lynn and I know this is challenging. We live it too. But when we stand firm in knowing who we are and whose we are, we rest in the power and provision of our Most High God. 

Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

By his wounds you are healed.

Once you were like sheep who wandered away.

But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. — 1 Peter 2:21-25

This list is so power packed with God’s truth and provision. Let’s break it down to how it applies to us today, especially in our mismatched homes.

  • Jesus never sinned, nor deceived. He is our model to not only emulate to live godly lives, but He also empowers us to do so with the help of His Holy Spirit who indwells us, because Christ died to put this into place. He is our truth. Don’t compromise to accommodate. 
  • Jesus did not retaliate. I don’t know about you, but when I’m “attacked,” I naturally want to defend myself. But I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I have nothing to prove (i.e. I don’t have to prove myself to others in order to be secure in who I am), nor do I have to prove God. He’s much better at it than I am anyway. God has taught me to trust Him to be my defender, which brings us to the next point.
  • Jesus left His case in the hands of God. Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t need to prove it, because He knew God would. Events would play out and reveal the Truth—Jesus. My friends, I have seen God do this over and over again. It isn’t easy, trust me, I know. But if I try to defend myself, I look foolish. If I trust God to do it, He will often make my accuser look foolish. That doesn’t give me permission to gloat, and often in this process, God works in my heart to have compassion for my accuser. Whoever it may be. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting for what to say or NOT to say and trust God to be your defender. 
  • Jesus personally carried our sins so we can live for what is right. And He did this for our pre-believers just as He did this for us. We are freed to live for what is right. Our pre-believers have not embraced this truth yet, so we can’t expect them to live according to that standard. They can live moral lives within their own ability, but they will fall short, just as we did and still do at times. The point here is what Peter said, “do good, what is right, even if it’s hard.” There are times when we can compromise without sinning, but we must not sin to compromise. I hope that makes sense. Sometime standing for the truth makes us a target, but will we stand? For Jesus, yes, I will stand.  
  • The wounds Jesus suffered healed us. And I believe they continue to heal us. As Paul says, continue to work out your salvation. It’s an on-going, transforming process. We are saved from the pit of hell the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord, but our salvation is an ongoing process. Jesus died once but He loves forever. His love transforms us. Declare this truth over your life.
  • He guards our souls. He is the lover of our souls. He did all this to ensure our place with Him. The greatest deception the enemy has accomplished among believers today is to believe God doesn’t love us. But when we really think it through, we can see the lie for what it really is. Why would Jesus suffer and die for us if He didn’t love us? He didn’t just do this to be done with us. He did it to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He has drawn us to Him out of love, not duty. 

Wow, this post has gone long. Sorry about that, my friends. So much good stuff in this part of Peter. I especially love the third point about leaving our case in the hand of God. How about you? Which point spoke to your heart most?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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Summer Study - An Ordinary People Who Have Been With Jesus

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comGang, 

As we work out way through the books of Peter, I would be remiss if I didn’t stop to share some thoughts about my last post on Friday. So, let me expand a bit on what I shared. One thing has nagged me about the post. 

I shared an example of a fictitious husband who is lost in a world of self-hatred which expresses in his life through alcohol addiction and rage. It grieves me to say that many SUMites walk in this place with an angry, drunken spouse. Because I know this, I want you to hear me now. I understand that it’s not easy or simple to forgive and love someone that behaves in destructive and hurtful patterns. 

Let me state the following: If you are living in an abusive marriage, seek help. Today, this hour. For yourself and your children. 

Pray to break off the spirit of alcohol, rage, self-hatred, etc. etc. Cast those ugly minions into the pit, never to return. In Jesus name. I will pray with you!

Learning to love people and “see” them through the eyes of Christ, however, empowers us to see past the superficial. We can ignore the annoying, the stubborn, the impossible, the arrogant and the godless people whom we live with, work with and come into contact with. The love of Christ, seats us in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2) and we can love an impossible mother-in-law, a boss who is a jerk, the neighbor who has loud parties, even the coach of the T-ball team who is ignoring our kid. 

This week I want to challenge you to do something amazing. I want you to ask God to help you “see” those who are unlovely through the lens of love. Now this is really important, pray and ask God for wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) that you can perceive what is really going on in a person’s life who annoys you and then begin to pray for them. 

Let me share a Kingdom secret with you: When you pray in earnest for someone it becomes impossible to hate them. Try me on this! No try Jesus on this! 

Also, this week I want you to take a risk for the Kingdom. I want you to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When you feel the urging of the Spirit to say something to a friend, a stranger about your faith or Jesus or pray to for them, I want you to follow through. God, has told me that He has encounters for us and this week especially, people will be open to receive a word of love from Christ, through you. Are you up for this risk? God won’t let you down if you follow through. And as one who has obeyed when God told me to speak to someone, I can tell you this. When you finish with the encounter it will be one of the most amazing things you will ever do. (Here is one of my encounter stories.)

SUMite Nation, Peter was an ordinary man and unschooled fisherman. Peter became a risk taker. He jumped out of the boat and walk on water. He was the first to speak to the new church on Pentecost. He was the one who went into the tomb to look for Jesus. Peter risked his life to preach the living Word, Jesus, to a lost and hopeless people. 

Let’s be like him this week. Let’s bring Jesus to someone who needs to be unchained from satan. 

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. —Acts 4:13 

My friends, we are ordinary people with no special training but WE HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS. This week, let's let our lives reflect this astonishing truth. 

I wanna hear your stories. I may head off to Walmart to pray again this week.

O Jesus, give all of us boldness. In Your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN

On Friday, we are going to examine suffering. You are gong to be surprised by what I have to say. But it's in the book. Get ready for some freedom!!!!

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1 Peter 1 & 2: Building Foundations (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, we’ve been set up. But in a good way. A great way. Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll let Peter explain…

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT

We walk in this truth today, the very truth of salvation that the prophets and even the angels eagerly awaited. What must it have been like for those prophets to catch a glimpse of God’s plan, yet not be given the opportunity to experience it? I can easily picture Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah along with the other prophets, standing among the angels as they watched God’s plan unfold in the birth of a baby and explode on a cross. Did they point and exclaim, “God told me He was going to do that!” 

Stunning to think about this grand set up and we are the “set-up-ees.” Peter further expounds on God’s plan by reminding us of the cost.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. — 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT

I believe Peter wanted his readers to clearly understand that God’s plan of salvation was not the invention of men, but the long term solution from God. Man had already turned the early commandments given to Moses into a religion (Judaism) with twice as many rules and more coming. Peter wanted to be very clear that this was the FINAL answer and not just another rule or method.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

 And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT

Peter’s last line there gives key insight. The New Testament uses two Greek words that describe Scripture, which are translated as “word.” John referred to Jesus as the Word, using the Greek word, logos, which has a list of meanings that would take a blog post of its own. In essence, it refers to a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea, the sayings of God, decree or mandate. The Divine Expression—Christ.

But when Peter uses it in verse 25, he uses the Greek word, rhēma, defined as that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word. Essentially, Peter is saying that the words preached to them held the truth of the Good News—the new message of Christ and His salvation, which would become the New Testament as we know it today and is the revelation of all that was foretold in the Old Testament. Some call these Holy Spirit inspired words, rhēma words, which agree with Scripture and are life-giving to the recipient. 

Jesus was the Word that already existed, through whom all was created and through whom all would be saved (John 1:1-5). Jesus was the living and final WORD, the word become flesh. That is what Peter wanted his readers to know. That although the Good News as preached to them was not written (yet) in scrolls as the Old Testament, they still held the truth of God.

All this Peter did to build up to his case of who we are in this Good News preached by the disciples. The very definition of who people were in God’s great plan was about to shift to a place of equality and uniqueness that people hadn’t heard as of yet, but would in actuality be the revelation of what God intended all along. 

No longer would people define their relationship with God with the help of the Law and a priest (Pharisee). For the first time since the Garden of Eden, men and women would know the One True God personally and intimately, because He made His home in temples of flesh instead of stone, and they were essentially their own priest, so to speak. The Holy Spirit had come to dwell in each person, connecting all to God the Father through Christ and to each other as the body of Christ. 

In essence, our identity changed from being outwardly defined to inwardly created. We are new creations, and royal priests, as Peter says. He also calls us living stones, chosen and precious in the sight of God,like Jesus was chosen and precious.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

My friends, I will stop here and save the rest for next week. What Peter told the early believers was life changing then, and it still is today. In the meantime, think about the reference to a cornerstone. 

What was a cornerstone and Who is the cornerstone? I bet you already know the answer to the second part, but have some fun finding out the first part. I’ll share that in part two.

Love you, my friends! Having a blast with you as we study Peter!
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Peter 2 - It's Hard To Love People

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comMan, reading through the books of Peter have set my faith on fire. I want to chat with you about so many of the passages. There is such power to live a life of strong faith within these titles. And these two small books speak specifics to all of us walking in a spiritually mismatch marriage. So hold on to your hats, we’re gonna experience a whirlwind of faith that shakes our world in every good way.

Awesomeness!!!!

I want to start in a weird place, turn to 2 Peter, chapter 1. It was in this chapter, months ago, that I realized the Spirit was pointing out the pathway of faith to me. I wrote in my Bible at the time in the margin: The Pathway of a Life of Faith. Let’s take a look:

Let me point out verse three:  

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.

Holy Mind-Blow! 

I want to talk about power in the next few weeks, but for now just hold on to this as a teaser.

Move along to verses four through eight:

4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Okay, do you perceive the stepping stones, I call them stepping stones of His Promises.

Pathway of Faith 2 Peter 1
Click on this photo, print, use for homework. :)


 

I hope this visual cements the steps of faith in your mind. 

Walking along these stepping stones is what moves us from nursing on milk as spiritual babies, to mature men and women of faith. All of us are currently standing on one of these stones. We take steps forward or back depending on our circumstances and faith maturity. Overall, I think that we understand most of these concepts of faith development and can pursue them through practice and through the encouragement of the Word. 

All, with the exception of one. 

I’m finding that making the leap from mutual affection to love is difficult for many believers. Let me explain. As believers we love God. We adore Him, our Savior, Jesus and the Spirit. We spend time with Him, worship, praise, pray and find that loving God is a pretty cool thing. It's easy to love God. Where we struggle is loving people. 

And I “get it.” People are hard. People disappoint, let you down, they outright lie, deceive and harm you. People are selfish, arrogant, sexually immoral, greedy, and lewd, filled with envy as well as a host of other hurtful and awful character traits. Sounds like the passage out of Mark 7. And this is just a list of our relatives……. *grin* Let alone the strangers in the world. *double grin* 

Christians love God but we often struggle to love people. I know this to be true of so many people including Pastors, teachers of the Word, life-long believers and those whom you would never guess that sound like they love but their actions or their life or even their own words betray them. Because they have been offended and hurt they see people as an annoyance, a bother, awful and unworthy of their time and effort let alone their love. Yikes, could this be me too?

But Peter is reiterating a command of Jesus: Love one another. But how? 

Ah, now we are getting somewhere. 

I am convinced that several months ago the Lord gave me a picture of a combination lock to help me communicate how to love others like Jesus. And I believe there are several components to making this last great hurdle from affection to real-Godly-love. 

As believer’s we have an edge when it comes to loving people because we are empowered and enabled to view people through the eyes of Jesus. 

Let’s consider a husband who struggles with anger or alcohol or both. 

Jesus sees a broken boy underneath this man’s addiction and explosions of rage, who was unloved by his earthly father (most likely). A man who never received affirmation of his value nor training on how to be a man of integrity. He is an angry man who feels he is always a victim of everyone and everything. Looking deeper still, Jesus sees the demonic oppression over his life from the spirit of drink and the spirit of anger. And mostly likely, what Jesus sees at the core of all of this is: An orphan spirit and a spirit of self-loathing or/and self-hatred. 

Whew! That’s a lot! 

Sometimes we need to just take a minute and ask the Lord to help us "see" the person in front of us, who has just ticked us off, through the eyes of Christ. This moment of clarity will lead to some pretty amazing revelations and realizations that can create a paradigm shift in our thoughts, actions, and reactions and then release authentic love for this person. 

It’s a process. It’s another set of stepping stones. Here they are. 

  • Supernatural Love – Lord, I can’t love on my own willpower. I ask for Your heart that I may love others like you love. Place Your heart within me and let me always speak and act out of Your love.
  • Prayer – Lord, help me to see with your eyes. Grant me perception and understanding.
  • Forgiveness – Lord, You need to help me to even want to forgive. Lord, I can’t do this on my own. You will need to change my heart and soul to forgive this person through your supernatural power and love.
  • Compassion – Lord, release in me supernatural compassion to love people, all people with your heart. Let Your compassion reign in my heart with every person with whom I have contact, on the phone, text, face-to-face, any capacity, whether they are a waiter at my lunch table, the janitor of the building, the pastor of my church, my husband, my wife, my children, their teachers, anyone and everyone. Lord, let me see them with your eyes. Always with compassion. In Jesus name. Amen.
  • No Judgement – O Lord, Jesus. I will not judge people by their outward appearance but will seek through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to perceive what is in their heart. Help me to see where they are broken and help me to live to love them in that broken place.
  • Child-like Faith – Lord, make love simple. Make love easy. Pour so much of your love into me that it flows out freely like a child, through a river of living water of love onto every person I meet and especially to my relatives, my immediate family and to my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Okay, a lot already to study, contemplate and pray. Tell me where you are on the stepping stones. What you are currently praying. Has this post of The Study of Peter helped you? 

Today's challenge/homework (for those who love homework): click on the photo in this post of the stepping stones, print it out. Take it into your prayer time and ask God about the stones here and which one, or more than one, He is currently asking you to seek to understand. Listen as the Holy Spirit guides. He might direct you to write names next to stones or issues or prayers. I would love for you to share those with me in a week or so.

I love you my friends. See you on Monday for another bunch of great words from the books of Peter. And Dineen will be sharing on Saturday. Woo Hoo! It's a blast reading the Word of God with you! Hugs, Lynn

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Summer Bible Study: Peter’s Restoration

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiPeter’s story of restoration is one of my favorites in the Bible. And I think knowing where he came from gives us even deeper appreciated of his letters which reflect the man of faith he became. So let’s just jump to John 21 and look at the foundation Jesus built in the man we know as Peter. 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “ Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “ Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “ Follow me. —John 21:15-19

This transaction is very symbolic. First Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three times, which Peter did. And it is Jesus who also restores Peter, three times. I believe Jesus knew exactly what Peter needed to be able to move forward as the rock upon which Christ’s church would be built.

Just as Peter denied Christ three time, Jesus gives Peter the chance to “choose” him three times thereby reaffirming Peter’s place in relationship to God’s kingdom and also to Christ himself. 

But let’s dig a little deeper into the Greek meaning behind the two version of the word “love” used in this passage.

The first time Christ asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” he uses agape, which portrays love as volitional (a choice) and self-sacrificing. Peter answers him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” But he uses phileō, which means a brotherly type of love with common interests. 

The second time Christ asks Peter this question, He again uses the agape form (“Do you truly love me?”). And again, Peter answers the same, using the phileō form of love.

 Finally, a third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Only this time he too uses the phileō form of love and in a sense he’s asking Peter, “Are you really my friend?” Peter didn’t quite seem to catch on to what was going on, and though hurt, he affirms his love for Christ in the same form he had the previous two times, phileō.

I wonder if Peter was afraid to confess such devotion out of fear. He’d let his Messiah down once. Was he afraid he would again, that he didn’t have what it took for the long haul? As I read this part of Peter’s history and imagine how he would have felt, I believe his self worth was at an all time low, which gave Jesus the opportunity to not only restore him but to define him.

Peter was about to learn who he was and whose he was—his identity in Jesus. And as we enter into his letters, we will see Peter as the man Jesus created him to be. A man sold out for Jesus because of his agape love for his Messiah.

I love Peter’s story because it reminds me that even in our worst moments, our bad choices, our failures, our losses...Jesus restores us and we can move forward in grace and truth.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:10

Peter shares this bold truth with us because he understood it more intimately than most. On a beach as he sat soaked to the bone with the smell of fish cooking on a fire, Jesus himself restored, confirmed, strengthened and established Peter, the rock on which He would build His church.

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Summer Study - Peter - The Man

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comI’m fascinated by the man, the disciple, Peter.

Reading and contemplating the exchange between Peter and Jesus during the Last Supper is intriguing, telling, and powerful. I would venture to guess that a great number of Jesus followers today can relate to this man. His passions, doubts, walk-on-water faith, brilliant moments and woeful experiences are true in our lives, just as they were in the life of Peter.

Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in the upper room. John 13 brings the discussion to life where Peter objects to his feet washing. (Just like us… I’m not worthy Lord). Then Peter decides he is worthy and wants Christ to make sure not to miss a spot, asking for a whole-body wash. (Just like us…. I better ask for everything and anything….. I don’t want to be left out.)

Yep.

We are more like Peter than we know.

At the end of this exchange Jesus says to Peter —to all of the disciples:

I have given you an example to follow: Do as I have done to you.

Jesus concludes: “You know these things — now do them!

—That is the path of blessing!”

My friends, this summer for a month, maybe a bit longer, let’s walk these pathways of blessing together. The Books of 1&2 Peter are filled with concepts, truths and freedoms that when under our feet take us along the pathways of the blessed and faithful. Let’s do this together.

We will look at different passages in these books as they apply to our lives today. I will likely skip around, as the best studies are always when I step aside and allow the Holy Spirit to lead my reading and listen to His voice.

With this said, I’m expecting some powerful moments to arise. I know the Lord has surprises, delights and divine moments when we will walk upon the path of holy ground. In fact, I know a few of us will be on our face as Jesus stands before us offering His love and healing.

Neat!

Before we jump straight into scripture, I think it is wise to bring our community into a common place of understanding about the man, Peter. Who was he? What happened to him and who he became and why his two books hold great wisdom. So, help a girl out.

Who can give me a two or three paragraph synopsis of the life of Peter? (Don’t go overboard) Leave your thoughts it in the comments. I will use that as a launch to the next post. Post any tidbits that are special to you about Peter in the comments as well.

Okay, Jesus followers…… This is a challenge to you to get out the Word, the powerful Word of God, and read it to discover the man, Peter. The disciple of whom Jesus said:

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” —Matthew 16:18

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