Alien Friendships

As Peter wraps up his letter, he reminds us of his purpose in writing to us aliens and strangers

    • encouraging you = speaking encouraging words to your heart.  
    • testifying that this is the truth = speaking thoughtful words to your head. 

But Peter also says that he wrote this letter “with the help of Silas”—some translations even say “by Silas”—indicating that Peter needed someone to come alongside him with words of encouragement and strength, as much as he needed to deliver those words to fellow Christians. 

Peter mentions three people that were alongside him. These folks are instructive for us too:

  1. Silas 

Peter called Silas a faithful brother. The Greek word he uses for brother is adelphos, a word which usually meant someone who shared the same parents. But Peter modifies this to mean a Christian brother whose heartbeat with the love of Jesus the way his did; someone who shared the same Heavenly Father.  

Silas was a recognized church leader and a companion of Paul (Act 15:22, 30-32, 40). He had quite an extensive and impressive resume, and he also had the full endorsement for such notable people as James, Paul, and Peter. 

  1. She who is in Babylon

Babylon is a code word almost universally agreed to be Rome, but there is some debate as to whom the “she” is. Some think this is the church-in-exile in Rome, and some think this is Peter’s wife (Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5). 

Whether the church or Peter’s wife, they/she are anonymous servants of God, but never for a moment forgotten by God, nor is their reward going to be lacking (Matthew 6:1, 4). 

  1. Mark

Peter calls Mark my son. Again, he takes a word that originally meant “my offspring” and changes it to mean Mark was his protegé. 

Mark had traveled with Paul, then left Paul mid-journey, and was eventually reconciled to Paul (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11). 

Mark listened to and recorded Peter’s accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry and wrote the first Gospel that was produced. His Gospel became one of the main reference documents that Matthew and Luke referred to in writing their Gospels. 

Here’s the point—There are no dispensable people in the Church! 

You may be like Silas with many talents and an impressive resume and references. Or you may be like the “she” who is an anonymous helper to others. Or you may even by like Mark who made mistakes but was given a second chance to make good on your commitment. 

You need a Silas, a she, and a Mark in your life. And you just may need to be one of those to someone else. 

“You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.” —Andrew Murray 

So let me ask you to consider something vital: Are you remaining faithful to your Christian family? 

Unlearning Limiting Fears

Did you know that you were only born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises? Yet the DSM-5 has a whole section to help mental health professionals diagnosis the specific phobia that may be limiting someone’s life. That might be because some places list upwards of 500 recognized phobias that constrict people’s lives! 

Since only two of our fears are innate fears, that means the rest of the fears that trouble us are learned fears. Since God repeatedly says “Fear not!” throughout Scripture, that must mean He also tells us how to overcome our fears. 

Christians—as aliens and strangers on this Earth—should have an alien response to earthly fears. So if we are going to unlearn some of the fears that have cramped our lives we will need to learn and relearn what God says to us.

Peter asks what might seem like a rhetorical question, “Who is going to harm you if are eager to do good?” Think about it: who wants to punish someone for doing the right thing? Apparently some people do because Peter goes on to add, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:13-14). 

So even if people insult Christians for doing things God’s right way, God’s blessing is on them. Sadly, people without God’s blessing on their lives often give in to the FOMO (fear of missing out) and they end up lashing out at those being blessed. That lashing out is directly rooted in their fears. 

Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs that humans have, and obviously, there would be fears associated with any of those needs not being met. At least, that would be the Earthling response. Christians need to unlearn those fears by learning and relearning why God tells them to “Fear not!” 

  1. Fear of not having physiological needs met—Jesus tells us why we shouldn’t worry (Matthew 6:25-34). 
  2. Fear of not being kept safe—the psalmist tells us that God is our shield (Psalm 84:11).
  3. Fear of not fitting in with a certain social group—Jesus proudly call His followers His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11-12).
  4. Fear of not being rewarded or recognized—Jesus says there are blessings for those that hang in with Him through persecution, including being called a co-heir alongside Him (Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:17).
  5. Fear of our life not having purpose—the apostle Paul reminds us that God chose us on purpose to be His example to the world (1 Corinthians 1:25-27). 

Since Jesus overcame all the things that could cause us fear, Peter counsels us to arm yourselves with this same attitude (1 Peter 4:1). The Greek word for arm yourselves only appears here, and it means for us to repeatedly remind ourselves of God’s truth. The Greek word for attitude is only here and in Hebrews 4:12, where we are reminded that the Word of God helps our minds unlearn, learn, and relearn God’s truth. 

Have the borders of your life been squeezed by your fears? Do you feel like you’re missing out on the “abundant life” that Jesus said you could have? The Word of God can help you unlearn those fears, and fellow Christians would love to come alongside you to help you continue to relearn that truth over and over again until your fears are banished from your life! 

Don’t let fear keep you from being all that God has planned for you to be! 

Please join me on Sunday as we continue our study of how Christians are to live as aliens and strangers while on Earth. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live. 

Living Lives That Make Sense

This sounds totally contrary to common sense, but I’ll bet you’ve seen this before—Someone does something unexpectedly nice, and gets criticized for it. 

Why would that be? 

Christians can expect to experience this more frequently. Jesus told His followers to be prepared for persecution from those who didn’t believe in Him. One of Christ’s disciples named Peter added a few other warnings for Christians: 

  • Non-Christians will accuse you of doing wrong even when you’re doing right
  • Non-Christians will think it’s weird that you don’t do the same evil deeds they do
  • Non-Christians will heap abuse on you for not doing the evil deeds they do (1 Peter 2:12; 4:4)

This is because living good, Christ-honoring lives causes a burning in those hearts that don’t know Jesus yet. 

Solomon said there’s an aching void in the heart of every human being. It’s a longing to know what makes sense in life (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). When Christians live their lives focused on God, and they live—as Peter said—“such good lives,” it reminds non-Christians of what they’re missing. 

Christian, you need to remember why we live this way. The belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:18) is the foundation for our lives. In fact, Peter called Jesus the Living Stone. As His followers, we are also called “living stones” that the Holy Spirit is building together to make a spiritual signpost to point others to Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9, 12). 

We cannot do this under our own power. Jesus Himself reminded us that we need the Scriptures which all point to Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45), and the Holy Spirit which will help us apply the revealed Scriptures (John 14:26) and live “such good lives.” 

So here’s how I’m challenging myself this week, and I’d like to extend this challenge to you too. For the next seven days, just before going to bed I’ll be asking myself these three questions:

  1. Did I read the Word of God today? 
  2. Did I see the God of the Word in the Word of God a little more clearly today?
  3. Did I live a good, Christ-honoring life today that pointed others to Jesus?

Join me this Sunday as we continue our look at how Christians should live as aliens and strangers while visiting Earth. You can join me in person or via Facebook Live.

Confession Is Good For You

One of the best definition of Selah is the bracketed comment used next to that word in the Amplified Bible: pause, and calmly think of that. 

Psalm 32 is only eleven verses long, yet Selah—a call to pause and ponder—is used three times. In other words, David is very interested in getting us to weigh something important. This whole psalm is a call to ponder the heavy, unbearable burden of unconfessed sins vs. the freedom and fresh start that comes immediately with confession.

And in case you think that confession is just something that someone does one time when they become a Christian, keep in mind that David is writing this song to be sung by the choir in church. That means confession is good for everyone!

The weighty CURSES of unconfessed sin

  • I feel worn out, wasting away like old, flimsy clothes (v. 3a)
  • I am groaning (v. 3b)—I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears (Psalm 6:6)
  • I feel God’s hand of displeasure heavy upon me (v. 4a AMP) 
  • My strength evaporates like water in the summer heat (v. 4b NLT) 
  • I’m led around like a dumb mule (v. 9)
  • I experience many woes (v. 10a) 

Then comes confession—I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord continually unfolding the past till all is told”—then You instantly forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin (v. 5 AMP).  

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

The weighty BLESSINGS after confessed sin

  • My transgressions are forgiven, which means they are lifted up and carried away (v. 1a)
  • My sins are covered; they are literally overwhelmed by God’s forgiveness (v. 1b)
  • My sin is no longer counted against me (v. 2a) because my record of forgiven sins has been cleared (v. 2b NLT; see also Psalm 103:2-3, 12) 
  • I get a fresh start, my slate’s wiped clean … Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared (vv. 1, 5 MSG) 
  • I’m protected in God’s hiding place and surrounded by God’s songs (vv. 7, 10b)
  • God instructs me and protects me to keep me from sinning again (v. 8)

What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record (v. 2 TLB) 

The mark of a maturing Christian is the one who is constantly closing the gap between sin and confession. 

Don’t let unconfessed sin weigh you down. As soon as you feel the Holy Spirit pointing something out in your heart, confess it and experience God’s immediate release! 

I am going to share one more message in this series on the Selahs in the Psalms this Sunday (but, God willing, we will return to this next summer). Please join me either in person or on Facebook Live. 

Christian Citizenship = Stewardship

“For the Christian, citizenship is about stewardship. That’s especially true in a country where our most important governing document begins with ‘We the People.’ That means we have a lot of responsibility. …  

“God has ordained a government as one way that He shows grace to all people. Government should recognize the God-given duty of human beings and respect the roles and responsibilities of family and church. Government is to keep the peace through the rule of law and to use force to punish those who break it. The role of government is to maintain justice and peace in society so other institutions, especially the family in the church, can do what they are designed to do. …

“Christians should enter the public square with a biblically shaped perspective. To apply a Christian worldview to questions of public policy is not exercising self-interest. It is simply serving our neighbor by testifying to the way God has made the world.” —Jennifer A. Marshall 

For the Christian, citizenship is about stewarding the responsibilities God has given us to the countries in which we live. Those include things like:

  1. Showing proper respect to those in leadership positions (Romans 13:1-6)
  2. Submitting like we’re servants of the King of kings (1 Peter 2:13-17)
  3. Praying for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  4. Voting for those people who uphold biblical principles

“All the opportunity for self-government through the rule of the people depends upon one single factor. That is the ballot box. . . . The people of our country are sovereign. If they do not vote they abdicate that sovereignty, and they may be entirely sure that if they relinquish it other forces will seize it, and if they fail to govern themselves some other power will rise up to govern them.” —President Calvin Coolidge

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 10

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 10

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 10.] 

     The ungodly disposition in a man makes him worship beings or things or ideas in order to render them powerless, and the same idea is apt to creep into the worship of God amongst Christians if not watched—“God will never let this or that come to me; I am a favorite of His.” Jesus Christ’s life is an illustration as to how God will deal with us, He will not shield us from the world, the flesh or the devil, they are allowed to do their worst because God has staked His all on what He has done in us (see John 16:33; 1 John 4:4). Trials and tribulations are trumpet calls to the witnesses to God. …  

     One moment’s realization that Almighty God is your Father through Jesus Christ, and I defy anything to terrify you again for long. If we realize, what these prophets realized, that nothing can happen without God’s permission, we are kept in peace. Worrying is wicked in a Christian. “Let not your heart be troubled.” How dare we be troubled if Almighty God Who made the world and everything in it, is our Father? … 

     We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now? … No matter how moral we may be, every domain of our life that is not regulated by the direct application of the wisdom of God is brutish in God’s sight. … 

     The greatest obstruction to the working of God comes from those who give themselves to interpreting the words of God rather than doing them. … Obedience is superbly easy because we have Almightiness on our side. Acknowledge God’s voice, take the step in the right direction and obey, and you will be backed by omnipotence in every detail. 

From Notes On Jeremiah

We go wrong when…

  • …we try to make God in our image, telling others what God will or won’t do 
  • …see trials and temptations only as bad things 
  • …allow our fears to paralyze us to God’s strength
  • …think we are unworthy to call God our Father 
  • …worry obsessively 
  • …block the Holy Spirit from continuing to make us holy
  • …keep God out of certain areas of our life 
  • …hear God’s Word but don’t obey it

I love this question—“We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now?” Well, why not?! 

9 More Quotes From “The Wisdom Of God”

The Wisdom Of God is a collection of never-before-published sermons from A.W. Tozer, in which he makes the case that true Wisdom is a Person to be known not a quality to be gained. 

“Wisdom and power cannot be separated from the Cross. If we do not obey, we blind ourselves, and we become dependent upon our own intellect, which will be in no way sufficient to teach others.” 

“Today, Christians need to learn how to worship, and instead of having all this religious claptrap and modern entertainment to hold people together, have the fire of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, which, by the way, will be enough.” 

“The one thing God has to offer us and the only thing we absolutely need is His wisdom. Flowing from that wisdom is the solution to all the problems that we could ever face. To know the wisdom of God in its fullness is to experience life as God intended it to be.” 

“Our relationship with God must be based upon God’s ways and not our ways.” 

“To fear God, out of which flows wisdom, is to submit myself to God unconditionally and without any personal agenda. When I come to God as He invites me to come, I will have what God intends for me to have.” 

“This effusion of superior wisdom is a gift imparted by God in addition to the gift of wisdom that He gives the birds so they know to fly south and that which He gives man to invent a spaceship or an electric light. This effusion of superior wisdom is something you either have or you don’t. It does not come gradually to anyone. So a man is either born or he is not. He is either born-again or he has not been born again; he cannot come into that gradually. The doctrine of gradualness is from the devil to keep the church of Christ from going forward.” 

“For wisdom dwells with God and He pours her out upon all His works in the degree they are able to absorb it, and the wisest man is the one who turns to the Lord in repentance and faith.” 

“Christ is that ancient, most excellent wisdom incarnated in our nature and making atonement for all our moral infamy. Any emphasis that makes sin less infamous than that is not biblical. Any interpretation of grace and mercy that allows sin to appear even reasonably excusable in the eyes of God is not a proper interpretation. Any doctrine, any view of sin that allows it to be excused in anyway is not biblical. It is not God’s way of looking at it, for God looks at sin as alienation. … God sent His only Son to make atonement for our infamy and saves those that turn to the wisdom of the just through repentance.” 

“We Christians are a strange crowd. We make a more of the invisible than the visible. We talk constantly to Someone we cannot see. We act as if thing were real that people do not believe are real and waive aside things that some people attach great value to. We sing about a Man who was rejected and crucified, and we say, ‘We find the yoke easy.’” 

You can read my review of The Wisdom Of God by clicking here. And be sure to check out some other quotes from this book here. 

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