Simpatico

Have you ever heard the word simpatico? It means to be like-minded. The idea is being on the same page with someone else, ideally someone that is a positive role model. Peter calls himself a leader in the church (Greek word presbyteros) but then says he is simpatico with us (sympresbyteros). 

And this isn’t just for leaders in the church, because the same appeal he makes to leaders is the same appeal he makes to both young men and to all of you. 

Although Peter didn’t use the phrase servant-leader, that’s exactly what he describes. In fact, for Christians, the words servant and leader are really one-and-the-same idea! Peter says God’s leaders are:

    • shepherds (those who nurture, guide, and guard) 
    • serving leaders
    • serving not because you must, but because you are willing (it’s “want to” not “have to”)
    • eager to serve with a great attitude 
    • not lording it over others
    • realizing people have been entrusted into their care
    • being examples to the flock that are follow-worthy
    • being submissive to others
    • clothing themselves with humility 

Three key concepts that Peter brings out are all seen in the life of Jesus: clothing, example, and humility

Jesus set the example for us when He said the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:25-28). 

When Jesus was incarnated in human flesh, He literally made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, which means He put on the clothing of a servant. He completely humbled Himself (Philippians 2:3-8). 

Jesus most clearly demonstrated this when at the last supper He wrapped a towel around His waist (i.e. clothed Himself as a servant) to wash His disciples’ feet, and then told us to follow His example (John 13:2-5; 13-17).

That’s why Peter tells us all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. The word Peter uses for “clothe” means keep on doing this every single day. 

God opposes the proud [those unwilling to be simpatico with Jesus] but gives grace to the humble [those choose to be simpatico with Jesus].

So here are two questions I’m asking myself—

Q: How do I know when I’m a servant?
A: When someone treats me like one. 

Q: How do I know I have a servant’s attitude? 
A: When I don’t mind being treated like a servant.

9 Prayers From “Praying The Promises”

In Praying The Promises, Max Lucado gives us valuable instruction on how to turn Scriptural promises into powerful prayers. Here are a few of those prayers (the biblical reference in brackets is the passage that helped form the prayer). 

Thank you for being a God who wants me to know You.… Your wisdom surpasses all wisdom on this earth. Your ways are so much higher than mine. I could study You and Your Word for the rest of my life and still only scratched the surface of the depths of who You are. You are at once knowable and unknowable.… Deepen my knowledge of You, God. [Psalm 19:1-2; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 1:19-20]

Help me rely on Your promise of grace because I have been found righteous through Jesus. When trouble comes, use those troubles to increase my faith and draw me nearer to You. [Hebrews 7:25]

Father, sometimes I convince myself that I need to earn Your salvation. I feel like I should do more, be more, and achieve more. But You simply want my faith. Help me let go of my striving and this need to perform for You and for others. [Romans 4:5; Philippians 3:4-7] 

Guide me during the difficult times. Give me hope as I pray and wait. Remind me of Your power and authority so that I will trust Your ways, even when I can’t see where the path before me is going. [Genesis 50:20-21; Ephesians 1:11-12; Romans 5:3] 

Forgive me when I look for guidance outside of Your Word. When I ask friends what to do before I open my Bible. When I am resistant to reading Your Word because I want to guide myself rather than be guided by You. Renew my desire and passion for reading the Bible. … May I learn something new about You and Your character each time I read it. [Psalm 32:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17] 

When a worry arises, remind me of Your presence so I will turn to You and not fear. [Psalm 23:1, 4]

Gracious Father, nobody is beyond Your redemption. Because of Your love and mercy, You provided a Redeemer for us in Christ, who graciously stopped us while we were on the path of sin, gave us refuge, and pointed us toward the road of redemption. [Galatians 4:4-5]

Forgive me when I try to fight my own battles. … If I try to fight for myself, I end up feeling exhausted and defeated by my own efforts. You have said You are fighting for me. Help me believe that truth even when I am so tempted to fight for myself. Go before me this week as I face temptation. Go before me as I face anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Protect me in every spiritual battle. Fight for me and help me surrender each battle to You. [Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; Psalm 20:7-8]

As concerns and questions come up, remind me to turn each of them over to You in prayer. I lift up my family to You. I lift up my work to You. I lift up my to-do list to You. Cover each worry with Your peace. Prioritize my day so that it aligns with Your will and not mine. [1 John 5:14]

You can check out my review of Praying The Promises by clicking here, and you can read some other quotes from this book by clicking here.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Do You *Really* Want To Hear This? (Proverbs 8)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Does not wisdom cry out…? (Proverbs 8:1).

Wisdom is accessible to all. Wisdom is not hiding; she is in plain sight and calls out to everyone (vv. 2-4). The question is: Do I want to find Wisdom? Do I really want to hear what she has to say? 

The Apostle Paul tells us to take all our thoughts captive and filter out the thoughts that aren’t obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). In other words, I need to eliminate the thoughts that are impure, false, vile, discouraging, unloving, proud, or un-praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). 

Wisdom herself says her words are: 

  • excellent
  • right
  • truthful
  • righteous
  • pure
  • easy to understand
  • sound
  • strengthening

The rewards for really listening to Wisdom’s words are pretty great too: 

  • treasures 
  • righteousness
  • justice
  • God’s blessings
  • eternal life
  • God’s favor

So with all that in mind, how would you answer the question now: Do you really want to hear what Wisdom has to say to you?

10 Quotes From “You!”

Max Lucado has given us a collection of short passages that will reaffirm to you how much God values YOU! This book could be a great pick-me-up for you, or a life-saving helper to your friend who is in crisis. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Since you are God’s idea, you are a good idea. What God said about Jeremiah, He said about you: ‘Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work’ (Jeremiah 1:5).” 

“God ‘personally formed and made each one’ (Isaiah 43:7 MSG). … And if you aren’t you, we don’t get you. The world misses out.” 

“You are a custom design; you are tailor-made. God prescribed your birth. Regardless of the circumstances that surrounded your arrival, you are not an accident. God planned you before you were born. The longings of your heart, then, are not incidental; they are critical messages. The desires of your heart are not to be ignored; they are to be consulted. As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life. God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate.” 

“God never called you to be anyone other than you. But He does call on you to be the best you you can be.” 

“God promises no applause for self-promoters. But great reward awaits God promoters: ‘Good work! You did your job well’ (Matthew 25:23 MSG).” 

“Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. He loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.” 

“Enough of this self-deprecating ‘I can’t do anything.’ And enough of its arrogant opposite: ‘I have to do everything.’ No, you don’t! You’re not God’s solution to society, but a solution in society.” 

“When asked to describe the width of His love, Jesus stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know He died loving you. But isn’t there a limit? Surely there has to be an end to this love. You think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit rock bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did.” 

“There are two extremes of poor I-sight. Self-loving and self-loathing. … Self-elevation and self-deprecation are equally inaccurate. Where is the truth? Smack-dab in the middle. Dead center between ‘I can do anything’ and ‘I can’t do anything’ lies ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). … Not self-secure or insecure, but God-secure—a self-worth based in our identity as children of God. The proper view of self is in the middle.” 

“Each time we do our best to thank God for giving His, we worship.” 

A.L.I.V.E.—The “L” Is For Lives Changed

A man named Paul was visiting Athens. While he was in the marketplace, he began to talk with people about Jesus Christ, specifically how Jesus had been crucified and then raised back to life.

His comments caught the attention of two groups of philosophers: the Epicureans who thought all religions were made up and were simply a crutch for the weak-minded and superstitious, and the Stoics who said that a divine power was in everything but wasn’t a Person that could be personally known. These groups said to Paul, “You are presenting some new teachings and strange ideas that we have never heard before! Would you come and address our next meeting?”

In 2004, renowned atheist Anthony Flew announced something that was a “strange idea” to the ears of his followers. Flew presented one of his first papers on atheism at the Socratic Club at Magdalen College, where the Christian literary giant C.S. Lewis served as the chairman. Over the years Flew had sharpened his rhetoric to become one of the best known and most outspoken atheists on the worldwide stage.

Yet in 2004, an 81-year-old Anthony Flew remarked, “I simply had to go where the evidence led,” as Flew announced to the world: there IS a God.

“My discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith,” wrote Flew in his book There Is A God, which is why last week I shared the first way we can know Jesus is alive in “A” is for apologetics. Today I submit to you the second way one can know that Jesus is A.L.I.V.E.: Lives changed.

Paul, who was asked to speak to the philosophers in Athens about his “strange ideas,” had been given the name Saul by his parents. When it came to religion, Saul took a backseat to no one! He was a purebred Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin (which gave Israel its very first king, who was also named Saul). Saul called himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” because he kept the Law of Moses and the strict rules of the Pharisees absolutely faultlessly.

When he heard about Jesus (who claimed to be God), and about the followers of Jesus who claimed He had been resurrected from the dead, Saul persecuted these Christians so vehemently that he not only had many of them thrown into prison, but he had many of them killed as well.

That all came to a complete stop when Saul met Jesus for himself! You can read how Saul retold this story in Acts 22:1-16. After this encounter, Saul’s life was 180-degrees different! He even changed his name to Paul to signify his new outlook. Now he was just as adamant to tell people about Jesus as he was previously to harass and persecute Christians.

Paul’s conversion came at a steep price. The Jews with whom he used to associate now turned violently against him. Numerous times they attempted to kill him. In addition, Paul’s newfound faith in Jesus caused him to be persecuted by the Romans as well. The Roman Emperors wanted people to say, “Caesar is lord” but Paul and the other Christians were declaring, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul ended up being executed under Emperor Nero.

Paul had numerous opportunities to recant, but he never came close to doing so. His life was one that was under constant duress and distress and danger preciously because he refused to back down from his claim that Jesus was alive!

Paul isn’t alone. Millions of people around the globe have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many, like Paul, have been harassed for their faith and some even violently persecuted and martyred, and yet they so firmly believed that Jesus is alive that they were willing to go to their early grave with “Jesus is my Lord” still on their lips!

What about you? Have you met Jesus for yourself?

Check out this video where my friend Scott tells his personal story of how an encounter with Jesus has completely changed the trajectory of his life.

Join me next Sunday as we continue with our 5-part series I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of… where we will be looking at the letter “I.” You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. If you missed the previous lesson, check out “A” is for apologetics by clicking here.

Demolishing Antichrist Strongholds

“This week we pray that God will demolish Antichrist strongholds We are surrounded by systems and strongholds that oppose Christ the Lord and King. There are social, political, economic, and legal structures and schemes that try to disparage God. We are not for or against a particular political system. We are Bible-believers, Christ-worshippers; and we come from all walks of life and backgrounds. We seek the glory of God and His alone. We align ourselves with His Word. We should not harbor enmity or hatred toward anyone. Even if they oppose us, deride our faith, doubt our God, and insult our Savior and King, they are not our enemies. The real enemy is satan who manipulates them. Our war is against satan and his strongholds. Such people are poor humans who need love and compassion from us, and mercy and forgiveness from God. We do not depend on human methods or material weapons, because this is spiritual warfare against satanic powers. Rather, our method is prayer, and that is all.

“O Lord our God, may You be praised for ever and ever! Why do the nations rage? Why do the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against You and against Your Anointed One (Psalm 2:1-2). Help us arm ourselves with the weapons You gave us in Your Word: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17). He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord derides them. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Psalm 2:4; Philippians 2:10-11).” —Sobhi Malek, in Praying For Muslims

If you haven’t already, check out my review of Praying For Muslims here. I shared some other prayers from this book here, and I also shared some quotes here.

What Does It Mean To Be “Worldly”?

A lot of Christians struggle with what is considered “worldly,” trying hard to avoid such things. In our last Q Series, this was a question that was asked by a couple of people: what exactly makes something “worldly”? Check out this short video clip…

In the video I reference the following Scriptures:

You can check out some other topics that we addressed in the Q Series like an apologetic for the Bible, parables, end times events, and prayer.

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