Good Life Journal – 1Peter 4

Scripture:
1Peter4:1 – “Since therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking …”
V 4 – “.. they (non-believers) are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery …”
V 10 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, a stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Observation:
Peter has no low standards. He calls people to think in the same way Christ thinks.
He also understands this isn’t easy, which is why I must “arm” myself with this thinking, not just “think good thoughts”.
The way I think should affect the way I live and this will be noticed by people outside the family of faith.
Not only should they notice it, they should be surprised” by it.
The ability to think and act in this way is not my own doing. It’s a gift from God.
The gift of grace and I must “steward” this gift as I would any other gift given by God.
Application:
Do I consider my thinking as a way of “arming” myself?
Or do I think about things just as way of acquiring knowledge or to just “get smarter” about something?
There’s a deeper level of thinking that prepares me for life. A thinking that is “the same way as Christ”.
He understood more than anyone that there is an unseen world we must be “armed” against in the day to day.
But this unseen thinking should become seen living.
Are people “surprised” by my actions and day to day life?
Peter just referenced in chapter 3 to “be prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks you the reason”.
Are people asking me why I live the way I live?
If not, why not? Do they see nothing different in my life versus the the world or other lives around them?
Peter stated simply, “they are surprised”.
Are they? If not, why not?
Am I trying to live in my own strength?
God gave me the gift of his grace!
Am I stewarding it for his purpose or abusing it to live like everyone else?
I wonder if it was verse 10 here that gave Bonhoeffer the profound idea of “Cheap Grace”?
He realized so many of us “abuse” grace because God is good.
He loves to give His children gifts. Grace chief among them.
I love to live an unchanged life. Knowing grace will be there.
But this considers grace far too flippantly … even “cheap”!
If grace is the greatest gift ever given … the very way of salvation and forgiveness of a holy God, then how can grace be taken lightly?!
I must steward God’s grace with as much reverence and honor and glory as I would every other gift from God.
And if I do this …
If I steward the greatest gift of the most loving Father, how could it not result in a life that people are “surprised” by?!
Prayer:
Father God, thank you that you are a giving God, but especially that you give grace.
Forgive me when I don’t steward it to your glory.
Forgive when I take it lightly, when I even forget it’s there.
Help me arm myself wth your thinking.
Help me know grace was the most costly thing ever.
It cost Jesus’ life.
Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice.
Help me love other with sacrifice.
To your honor and your glory.
Amen.

-Dan Shontere

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Good Life Journal – 1Peter 3

Scripture:  

 1Peter 3:8

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion, one of another, love as brethren, be humble. 

 Observation:

Here, Peter like in much of the bible, gives an instruction manual for our lives. Wives, husbands, slaves, believers, unbelievers and those suffering all get direction as to how to live a righteous life so that we will be “heirs of the grace of life and our prayers will not be hindered.” Verse 7

Application:

 Today I hear the voice of God reminding me that fellow believers are my brethren, brothers and sisters in the inheritance of God’s kingdom. 

 As brethren and fellow faithful, we are told to be like-minded. We share the same beliefs and views that we are to live not for this world, but for God’s kingdom. God’s people are not to view things as unbelievers do; we are not to make worldly judgments. We should help each other on our journey to God’s kingdom. I should help fellow brothers to better understand the glorious truth of faith in God. I also realize that fellow brothers and sisters all have a part to play, helping me to grow more like Christ.

 Verse 8 reminds me to have compassion and love for my fellow believers. Love is putting someone else before myself. Am I really loving my fellow believers? Compassion is a feeling of wanting to help someone. How often do I have a sincere desire to help others?

 Finally, I am reminded to be humble. I often need to be reminded not to have a haughty demeanor. A haughty attitude is what keeps me from having love and compassion towards my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer:

 Father, 

Thank you for reminding me that God’s people do not view the world like unbelievers do. As like-minded believers, we live according to Christ, not man’s pleasure. Please remind me to be loving and compassionate to everyone, but especially to brothers and sisters in Christ. Remind often to be humble, especially with fellow believers.Please remind me daily that I will one day live in the glory of your kingdom.

-Don J.


Good Life Journal – 1Peter 2

Scripture:

      “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. “

(1 Peter 2:19-21 ESV)

Observation:

At the beginning of 1st Peter 2, the Holy Spirit lists out in some detail what I am as a result of being redeemed: Living Stones, Holy Priesthood, Chosen and Precious, Royal, a people for His own possession, People who are free, and more.

It occurs to me that there is a reason for these descriptive lists, an implication that is necessary for me to know and embrace what I am in Christ as described in this letter.

It is what potentially happens to servants.

 

Application:

I fall into the trap of picking apart scriptures like Peter, Paul, and all the others wrote a series of essays and put them all together in a document meaning to distribute them all across the Christian churches of the time—find the essay that fit my mood and I was good. Don’t look at the tough parts; look at the parts that make me feel good, empowered, positive.

I have to remember that these were letters meaning to address issues that the Holy Spirit put on their hearts according to their knowledge of the churches, observation of the churches conduct, and quite frankly prophetic insight into the churches struggles, successes, current plights, and certain futures.

I saw that this chapter of 1st Peter could have been cherry picked into various “Sunday School” observations. But—what was the Holy Spirit saying to me? What did I need to learn; to be reminded of; to be corrected or encouraged by? Where was the “active and living Sword of the Spirit” for me in this chapter?

It is in verse 19 through 21: Enduring sorrows, enduring suffering, enduring wrong when wrong isn’t justified.

Scripture shows me clearly that when I deserve a whack and I get it there is no complaint because I am only getting what I deserve. I might complain “unjust” but clearly I know that most times justice has been served.

It is when something happens that I don’t deserve that my self-defense mechanism goes up. I rush to “set the record straight”, to defend myself, to emphatically seek retribution, restitution, and defend my honor (such as it is). It can be as little as being cut off by another car (“Why did they do that; now I am going to be late” or something like that.). I want to do that right now at work concerning an issue.

From any large thing to any and very small thing I want “me” to be treated right and just.

But, if I am called to be like my Savior, then shouldn’t I expect to be treated wrong from time to time? He didn’t complain; should I? “When He was reviled, he did not revile in return…but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. (v23)

That’s what I want to be like. That is what I am called to be.

Prayer:

Father. Lord God. Even being redeemed, sin crouches at my door. It wants to assert itself in the form of self-defense, selfishness, self-determination, and so many other “self-‘s” that it is dizzying to think about. My heart beats hard within my chest screaming to “make me right” and everyone else wrong.

But my desire for self-justification is wrong. Help me please to see Your Hand in all that I encounter. Your desire is to make me in the image of Your Son, My Lord. I know even if I look lightly at the guy in the mirror, there is a lot of work there to do. I want to be like You…a disciple…a learner…embracing Your Word in my life where I need to work at being a Christian. Help me grit my teeth, set my face with determination and be that kind of man.

-Rick Sutton


Good Life Journal – 1Peter 1

Scripture:

1 Peter 1:17-19 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 

Observation:
Peter calls the church to live in holiness as a response to the great work of God, which is the gospel. He refers to the their life prior to the gospel as “former ignorance.” He makes it clear that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the prophets spoke of and was the plan of God from the beginning. A life of holiness is lived in response to the work of Christ that made them holy and righteous in the first place. This work of God was through the blood shed by Christ. The cross, the sacrifice of Jesus is essential to the experience of holy living.

Application: 
The call to be holy is not given as a blind command. Rather through the gospel we are called to live holy lives in response to the gospel of Jesus. The seriousness of holy living is rooted in the incredible cost God paid to make us Holy. We were ransomed from a way of life that would always come up short and we have been given the chance to actually live this out successfully. Holy living is possible through the righteousness of Christ and the presence the Holy Spirit in our lives. Living Holy is also possible through the new relationship we have as God. Not simply our judge but much more importantly He plays the role of Father through the adoption made possible through Christ. I am no longer under the law but I am now a son. Therefore my holy living is accomplished through a love relationship with the creator and sustainer of the universe. My father.

A few thoughts to land on when it comes to Holy living…
I can live holy because…

1. The Father has been made known to me. I am no longer an illegitimate child wandering hopelessly in this world. I am a called out and adopted child of God. Holiness is now my nature through the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

2. My time on earth is a time of exile. This isn’t my home, yet I find my home in Christ. I am not simple living on earth but I am also seated with Christ in the heavenlies. I must not forget that this place is not my home. For when I do forget I get too comfortable in the systems and strategies of the world.

3. Holy living is a response. My holy living is not what initiated my relationship with God. My relationship with the Father was initiated through the Holiness of Christ and the holy and royal blood shed to ransom me. The love I now live is a response to that. When I recognize I am not the initiator I have a much better chance of responding appropriately.

4. I am without spot or blemish because Christ is without spot or blemish. Not because I have cleaned my self up but because the precious blood of Christ has washed me. As I trusted in that the moment of my salvation I trust that today. The same blood that saved me gives me strength day by day to live holy.

Prayer:

Father thank you for the plan from the beginning. I worship you because in your foreknowledge you made a way for a guy like me to be known and to know you. Thank you for holiness in Christ. May my life, actions, words and thoughts hit the mark of glorifying you today. May I trust in the leadership of your spirit and not my own abilities.


Good Life Journal -Psalm 36

Scripture:

Psalm 36:1-2

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

 Observation:

David speaks from experience. The wicked have a way of lying to themselves and assuming that they are above the ramifications for their sin. The wicked don’t fear God and therefore the voice that is followed is the voice of transgression rather than the voice of God.

Application:

This verse is a lot easier to journal on until I am honest with myself long enough to recognize that I play the role of the wicked on a regular basis. There are times when the desires of my own flesh speak louder than the voice of God. The fear of God is trumped by my own selfishness and pride. The voice of God always speaks truth, yet the voice of my transgression always flatters. The flattering voice says, “Keep it up. You are above the law. Everybody will love you no matter what. God’s Law doesn’t apply to you. You are good.” Seems too good to be true, right? That is because it is. When I place myself above the law of God I am in a precarious position. Though we all love flattery we must reject it. Flattery doesn’t tell the truth that we desperately need to hear.

A few action steps…

  1. Fear God. Believe that what He says is true and therefore the things He warns against I should avoid at all costs.
  2. Don’t listen to flattery. Flattery is not God’s language. The truth is when the voice that speaks is too good to be true I know to not listen to it.
  3. Confess my sin. Don’t conceal it. All iniquity will ultimately be found out. Therefore confess my sin to God and walk in the forgiveness and grace He offers.

 Prayer:

Father I trust in you and your forgiveness. I am not above the law. Sin and iniquity always wreak havoc. Help me listen to your voice of truth and not transgression’s voice of flattery.


Good Life Journal – Psalm 33

Scripture:

Psalm 33:9

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:12

Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

 

Observation:

  1. God has spoken to us. We must obey.
  2. We live in a culture that values wealth, luxury, power, intelligence. It is counter cultural to rely on God for wisdom, wealth and protection.

 

Do we really comprehend the true power of God? By His word the heavens and the earth was formed. He never lifted a finger. He never hired anyone to do the job or have someone else do it for him. He only had to speak and the earth was formed. He simply spoke and the earth obeyed.

 

Application:

We must try to begin to understand God’s power and authority. The earth obeyed God’s word. We need to do the same. God has spoken to us through the Bible. We must obey His written word. He has provided us the word to study, discuss and share with others so they could be saved.

Earthly power and status means nothing to God. In verse 16 it states, “The king is not saved by his great army.” He may win many battles and take control of a great territories but eventually the king will grow old and die. His army cannot save him from eventual death. All of a king’s castles, walls, citizens, etc. cannot save a king from the same eventual fate as everyone else: death. The same goes for a strong warrior. He may win battles. He may win glory. But eventually he grows old and dies.

The king relies on his army and their power to protect his kingdom. The rich rely on their wealth. The famous rely on their notoriety. The intellect relies on knowledge. We think that earthly things will save us. But the wise rely on God for all things. They stand in awe and obey His word.

Only God can deliver us from death. Every path that relies on earthly power, earthly protection or earthly wisdom ends in the same result. Death. We may live in temporary happiness, luxury, power and prestige but is all based on earthly values and not spiritual values.

Nations can have the same fate as a person. If a nation does not follow God, their fate will ultimately end in death. I cannot make everyone in our country choose to follow God but I can make sure I am doing my part. I can make sure I am living a Christian life. Do people see Christian values reflected in my lifestyle, choices, etc.? Do I stand up for Christian values in my choices of music, movies, television, etc.?

Prayer:

Help us to understand your word and how to apply your word to our lives. Help us to stop living according to today’s cultural norms and start living according to your norms. Help us to rely on you for all of our direction and needs.


Good Life Journal- Psalm 30-32

Scripture: 
Psalm 30
V 3 “… You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”
V 7 “By Your favor, O LORD, You made my mountain stand strong.”
Psalm 31
V 3 “… for Your name’s sake you lead me and guide me…”
V 7 “…. Into your hand I commit my spirit…”
V 15 “… my times are in Your hand…”
Psalm 32
V 10 “… but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.”


Observation:


David describes a variety of circumstances.
Sometimes he’s in the “pit”.
Sometimes he’s on the “mountain”.
Regardless of circumstances in his life, he remains surrendered to the Lord.
He also remains trusting in the lord, which is different.
We can surrender to someone or something we don’t trust.
Why would we we surrender AND trust?
“For HIS Name’s sake!”
What happens when we surrender and trust?
“Steadfast Love Surrounds Us!”
How amazing!
How inspiring is this posture of our heart and mind and self?
It inspired some of the final words of Jesus, Himself, on the cross, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit”.


Application:


David’s faith was a different kind of faith from what we often see today.
David’s faith in God was not dependent on how his life happened to be going at the time.
Is my faith in who God is, or my trust in what God is doing ever dependent on the circumstances of my life?
I certainly hope not.
Circumstantial faith is a shaky, fragile faith.
Why? Because circumstances are shaky & fragile.
They change all the time.
I must trust that if life is “good”, it can be good “for His name”.
Likewise, if things are “bad”, it can be bad “for His name”.
I must “give thanks in all circumstances”, as Paul would say so many years later from jail.
Why? Because God can be glorified in the pit of or on the mountain!
And like so many couples promise on their wedding day … “rich or poor” … “sick or healthy” … etc.
“Steadfast love” should surround us and abound in us, regardless.
I can’t allow life’s circumstances to determine if I will “commit my spirit into His hand”.
Jesus did this in the midst of the worst possible circumstance.
And when I do this, I can trust that “my time is in his hand”, as well.
In this way, I can live “surrounded by steadfast love” AND “for His name’s sake”!
I can’t think of any better way to live than that!


Prayer:
God thank you for your word, for your truth.
Lead me into fresh ways to trust you and surrender to you any element of my life I’m trying to lead myself.
Show me where I’m not living for your name.
Help me not to live for life’s circumstances.
Help me rest in your love.

-Dan Shontere