Friday, August 20, 2010

Frustrated? Seek God.


Dear Lord, Thank You for your love. I am grateful for all You have been teaching me this day from the question in Genesis “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” ... Thank You for hemming me in Lord so that the only place I have left to look is to You. Amen.

What I ran into was frustration. I tried hard and saw some little success but the thing I really wanted, to be delivered from obesity, did not happen because of anything I tried. I was unable to make it happen and continually lost the battles against my self and ended up thinking this was just one more way to show how inadequate I am. How foolish I am. How hampered and helpless I really am. Then after I prayed for His help today, I heard a preacher talking to some men who were in prison and he pointed out that statement that God had made to Adam and Eve: “Who told thee that thou wast naked?

As I began to think about that statement/question I realized the answer was Satan. Satan is the one who tells us we are naked. It is the “knowing good AND evil” that gets us into trouble with God. In God’s eyes our nakedness was not a problem. God did not tell Adam and Eve they were naked. Satan is the one who tells us we lack something, or are not good enough, or not pretty enough, or we are inadequate in some way, lacking some “important” thing especially something that "everybody else has," but we don't have. 

Gen 2:25  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

They were not ashamed to be what God had created them to be. It is when we listen to the serpent -- in any form at all -- that we sin by not turning away and remembering/listening to God’s words. We got into trouble and brought trouble on us all by ignoring what God said. Here is the story:

Gen 3: 1 ¶  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The serpent did not introduce himself. He just started talking. And when he spoke he asked a question, as if he was ignorant and wanted information from Eve. He just needed her help on one point. He also couched his question in a false hood. He make it look like he thought that they were not allowed to eat of ANY tree in the garden. Eve attempted to correct his information. She knew the word of God.

2  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

The first wrong step was in having a conversation with a serpent.

So lesson one for us is: don’t try to reason with serpents, just turn away. 

Even though what Eve said was perfectly correct and she was doing the right thing by quoting God, and correcting a Biblical misstatement, she continued talking to the serpent. Bad Idea!

Ephesians 5:11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

She should have walked away at that point but she gave the serpent a chance to speak to her again – that was the second wrong step: politely letting him speak again as if he was a neighbor or a friend. This was the first instance of “political correctness." Somehow, gentle and innocent Eve, thought giving Satan a moment to speak again was “the right thing to do.” What could be the harm?

4  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

The next step in the evil plan takes place:  the serpent, flat out, denies that what God had directly spoken was true. He contradicted God and by so doing called Him a liar. Then, not giving Eve a chance to speak he arrogantly gives all the reasons and justifications for denying God:

5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

He pretends to know the mind of God. He pretends that God is withholding something from her and makes God look selfish. In doing this, he supplants himself into God’s place, meaning he just put himself on the throne. And then he reaches an entirely different conclusion: He skirts the issue of death (which is the point) and talks about "knowledge." He took a life and death matter and trivialized it. He made God small. (We are to magnify God, not reduce Him.)

He told Eve three things (evil justifications often come in threes):

a. your eyes shall be opened

b. ye shall be as gods

c. you will know good and evil

a. YOUR EYES SHALL BE OPENED: with this statement he implied that her eyes were closed – but they could be opened up if she listened to him. Eve was living in the light of God, but the serpent called that light: ignorance. Eve believed him. She was inexperienced, had never spoken with a shyster before, HAD ONLY HEARD GOOD (GOD) BEFORE, and did not understand what the serpent was really saying. She was too small to see the big picture and so was trapped. She also did not turn away and run to God and ask Him. She assumed that she understood and let her “self” begin to rise up. She listened to the lies, and they affected her.

b. YE SHALL BE AS GODS: Note, the serpent is now speaking, not only to Eve, but to Adam, too. He is generously roping them both into his scheme. He is making them a promise, predicting the future, and telling them how to educate and elevate themselves, exactly as he has done. He planted a thought that they had not had before. They had been satisfied and content, but now, suddenly, they wanted to be like God. The serpent's words were so similar sounding to God's, spoken with authority like God speaks, that Adam and Eve thought the serpent's words must be trustworthy, too.

Lesson two: When you give the same authority to the voice of evil that you give to the words and voice of God, you get yourself into deep trouble.

c. YOU WILL KNOW GOOD AND EVIL: They obviously did not know both good and evil at this point. God is only good and God was all they knew, so they only knew good. But in this itty bitty conversation they were being lead down the garden path and out into the world. This is the one thing that gets in our way: knowing both good and evil. (Knowing means to be intimate with.) They had previously been intimate only with good. But now they were being taught there is something else that they are “missing.”  

Lesson three: not everything you don’t have is worth having.

So in essence the serpent told Adam and Eve that they would have understanding that they did not now have, they would be similar to God in status and position, and they would know both sides of the story after they ate the forbidden fruit. They would know not only the cloistered little garden they had been living in where the good was, but now they could also know evil as well. He did not explain what evil is, and did not call it that, he simply painted a pretty picture and dangled it in front of them like a carrot, enticing them. They had no idea. They did not question what they were hearing even though it completely contradicted what God, the creator, had told them previously.

Evil: Strong's Concordance: 07489. עער ra‘a‘ raw-ah’; a primitive root; properly, to spoil (literally, by breaking to pieces); figuratively, to make (or be) good for nothing, ....

Why would we be attracted to broken pieces? Why would we want the “good for nothing?” That is what evil is. It is only brokenness, the "wholeness" is missing. There is no good in it – it is only darkness and no light.

1John 1:5  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Here is the final step toward sin that Eve took: She began to picture or imagine what the serpent had been talking about in her own mind. Rather than analyze it for validity or even simply comparing it based on her own knowledge of God, she succumbed to it. She did not ask, "What are you doing?" She began to salivate at the possibility.

6 ¶  And when the woman saw

She felt she now had clarity. She now understood. Everything looked different to her now that she had listened to the serpent/teacher without question. And what did she see?

that the tree was good for food,

The lust of the flesh. How did she know it was good for food? She looked at it and thought it was. She leaned on her own understanding.

and that it was pleasant to the eyes,

The lust of the eyes. Wow. She could see how pretty it was. Her eyes were pleased and she was drawn to it, to have it as her own. (The first shopping spree.)

and a tree to be desired to make one wise,

The boastful pride of life. What she had previously not desired and paid no attention to, suddenly became desirable because it would make her "better." She would now be wise. Wow, she could become the teacher. She would prosper and be rich. She would have the understanding and the skill herself. She would be on top.

she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

She put out her hand, plucked the fruit and took a bite and shared it with her husband who also ate. It was easy, it was right there within reach, and she grabbed it.

7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And their eyes were opened. They now saw what they had not seen before. They felt differently. And what did they see first? They looked at themselves and knew that they were naked. The first evil thing they saw was themselves and what they lacked. They had not been evil before that. After they sinned, then they knew evil. So they went immediately to work to try to fix it. They saw the problem as “being naked” and tried to fix themselves by making “aprons.” They still did not recognize, yet, that the problem was sin.

8  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Did you notice that they fixed themselves -- but still hid from God?

They hid their nakedness with leaves but still hid themselves from God. Guilt was now a part of their lives. That is what happens when you are intimate with sin – you become guilty.

They began to hide themselves from the sound of God’s voice – and the words He spoke. They hid amongst the trees. They were afraid of God and hid themselves from His presence.

Lesson four: The first place a person leaves behind when they begin to live in sin is Church.

They do not want to hear the voice of God and be reminded of their guilt. It hurts their pride and their sense of self and makes them feel icky when they continue to sin. They can’t pretend to be god, in God’s presence. The truth of God is way too strong for that.

9 ¶  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

The LORD knew where Adam was, he wanted to give Adam the chance to say where he was and admit it to himself. God was very patient.

10  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Adam was not only naked, he was now afraid. This is where fear comes from. From being intimate with evil. And what is he afraid of? He heard the voice of God in the garden and was afraid. He became afraid of God.

11 ¶  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

When God asked them “Who told thee that thou was naked?” it was like say, “Who are you listening to?” Just like looking at a child with chocolate on his face and asking him if he has been eating the forbidden fruit, God was testing Adam and Eve. This question is important. It is one we can ask ourselves. Fill in the blank.

WHO TOLD YOU, YOU WERE___________________?

Who told you that you were without resources? God has plenty of resources. We can fill in that blank with whatever we are ashamed of or whatever we are “lacking”. And the answer is always the same: Satan is the one who told us that lie.  What question should we ask ourselves?

John 20:15-17  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Lesson 5 is to ask ourselves “Why am I weeping, and whom am I seeking?” 

Stop and listen for the voice of Jesus. Is He saying something different to you than what the world says to you? Who are you seeking? Are you seeking to elevate yourself? Are you seeking evil? Or are you seeking God and His righteousness? Whom are you seeking? The answer will tell you what you have been up to.

Matthew 6:32-33  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Open His word and seek what God says about you. Then start saying to yourself the things that Jesus says about you. Take a stand for the word of God and let Him be the one speaking to you. Let Him be the Author of your life. That is called faith. The weeping will stop because you will be seeking God.

Did you ever stop to think that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb because she was looking for Him?  The Apostles were not looking for Him, they were in their rooms crying. So the Lord appeared first to the one who was seeking Him and listening for Him and wanting Him.  In just this way, if we seek Him, He will draw near to us, too.

James 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

What does Jesus say to you about you? What do you read in His Word? Listen to Him because His message is life -- and more abundantly! "Jesus Christ did not come to make the bad people good, He came to make the dead people live!" -- Ravi Zacharias

John 10:10  "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Most important lesson: You cannot fix yourself with fig leaves or psychology or a new diet. You need repentance and the forgiveness of sin that comes from Jesus Christ who is King of kings and Lord of lords. And then you need to continue reading His word and walking with Him.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Isaiah 50:10  "Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God.

Ps 16:11  Thou (God) wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Need of Love today?

Recommending a Wonderful "Devotional" by Andrew Murray

For the past couple of weeks, I've been needing fresh fillings of God's love. I've needed to experience it deeply within my soul, again, so I've been re-reading "Abiding in Christ" and found that chapter 22 really touched me deeply. I've been recommending it and giving out copies to those who appeared to need to feel God's love for them in a whole new way.

If you have not ever read "Abiding in Christ" by Andrew Murray, you really should give it a try. You will get acquainted with Christ and God in ways that you may not have ever considered before. AM shows you how to abide in Christ -- and also that it does not depend on you -- but on Him!!

The book was originally written in the Dutch language of South Africa, where he was a Pastor, and then translated into English in the early 1900's so the language of the early version is a little archaic, but far from unreadable. And I have never been able to figure out which version of the Bible the quotes are taken from. They sound like KJV, but I have checked and they are not the same -- although very similar. The first copy of "Abiding in Christ" I ever read was one of the older versions and I fell in love with it. (I fall in love with Jesus more and more each time I read it.) AM breaks the passage down and points out things that you don't see when you just read through without meditating on His word. He opens the verses up so you get to glimpse the heart of God for you. And don't you just need that from time to time -- so you can go out in the world again and freely give love to others?

In my searching, I also discovered a couple of odd things -- that the title is sometimes called "Abide in Christ" and sometimes "Abiding in Christ" -- either way it is the same book.  I think AM also wrote another group of essays using the same title which is also just as inspiring, but it is not the same book.  I have no idea why that would be, or why it was done, but if you go searching on the internet you are bound to find the same things I did.

When I was looking for copies for a class I was co-teaching we found and used a modern copy (from Bethany House Publishers with Updated Language) and it was just as inspiring -- and is, in fact, the one I've been reading.  I am going to copy and paste one chapter from the book below so you can get a real feel for his writing, if you are not familiar with him.

Every chapter builds on the one before and AM meant for them to be a 30-day devotional all based on John 15:1-12. So for a month you get to mediate on Christ being the Vine, and you being the branch and all that that blesses us with.

Please find below, chapter 22 from "Abiding in Christ" (the old version) -- read and truly enjoy:

And in His Love

By Andrew Murray

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." JOHN 15:9

Blessed Lord, enlighten our eyes to see aright the glory of this wondrous word. Open to our meditation the secret chamber of thy love that our souls may enter in, and find there, their everlasting dwelling place. How else shall we know aught of a love that passeth knowledge?

Before the Saviour speaks the word that invites us to abide in His love, He first tells us what that love is. What He says of it must give force to His invitation, and make the thought of not accepting it an impossibility: “As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you!"

"As the Father hath loved me." How shall we be able to form right conceptions of this love? Lord, teach us. God is love. Love is His very being. Love is not an attribute, but the very essence of His nature, the center round which all His glorious attributes gather. It is because He is love that He is the Father, and that there is a Son. Love needs an object to whom it can give itself away, in whom it can lose itself, with whom it can make itself one. Because God is love, there must be a Father and a Son. The love of the Father to the Son is that divine passion with which He delights in the Son, and speaks, “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The divine love is as a burning fire; in all its intensity and infinity it has but one object and but one joy, and that is the only begotten Son. When we gather together all the attributes of God -- His infinity, His perfection, His immensity, His majesty, His omnipotence -- and consider them as the rays of the glory of His love, we still fail in forming any conception of what that love must be. It is a love that passeth knowledge.

And yet this love of God to His Son must serve, O my soul, as the glass in which you are to learn how Jesus loves you. As one of His redeemed ones, you are His delight, and all His desire is to you, with the longing of a love which is stronger than death, and which many waters cannot quench. His heart yearns after you, seeking your fellowship and your love. Were it needed, He would die again to possess you. As the Father loved the Son, and would not live without Him -- would not be God the blessed, without Him -- so Jesus loves you. His life is bound up in yours; you are to Him inexpressibly more indispensable and precious than you ever can know. You are one with Himself. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." What a love!

It is an eternal love. From before the foundation of the world -- God's Word teaches us this -- the purpose had been formed that Christ should be the Head of His Church, that He should have a body in which His glory could be set forth. In that eternity He loved and longed for those who had been given Him by the Father; and when He came and told His disciples that He loved them, it was indeed not with a love of earth and of time, but with the love of eternity. And it is with that same infinite love that His eye still rests upon each of us here seeking to abide in Him, and in each breathing of that love there is indeed the power of eternity. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love."

It is a perfect love. It gives all, and holds nothing back. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand." And just so, Jesus loves His own -- all He has is theirs. When it was needed, He sacrificed His throne and crown for you. He did not count His own life and blood too dear to give for you. His righteousness, His Spirit, His glory, even His throne, all are yours. This love holds nothing, nothing back, but, in a manner which no human mind can fathom, makes you one with itself. O wondrous love! To love us even as the Father loved Him, and to offer us this love as our everyday dwelling.

It is a gentle and most tender love. As we think of the love of the Father to the Son, we see in the Son everything so infinitely worthy of that love. When we think of Christ's love to us, there is nothing but sin and unworthiness to meet the eye. And the question comes: How can that love, within the bosom of the divine life and its perfections, be compared to the love that rests on sinners? Can it indeed be the same love? Blessed be God, we know it is so. The nature of love is always one, however different the objects. Christ knows of no other law of love but that with which His Father loved Him. Our wretchedness only serves to call out more distinctly the beauty of love, such as could not be seen even in heaven. With the tenderest compassion He bows to our weakness, with patience inconceivable He bears with our slowness, with the gentlest lovingkindness He meets our fears and our follies. It is the love of the Father to the Son, beautified, glorified, in its condescension, in its exquisite adaptation to our needs.

And it is an unchangeable love. “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end." “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee." The promise with which it begins its work in the soul is this: “I shall not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken of to thee." And just as our wretchedness was what first drew it to us, so the sin, with which it is so often grieved, and which may well cause us to fear and doubt, is but a new motive for it to hold to us all the more. And why? We can give no reason but this: “As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you."

And now, does not this love suggest the motive, the measure, and the means of that surrender by which we yield ourselves wholly to abide in Him?

This love surely supplies a motive. Only look and see how this love stands and pleads and prays. Gaze, O gaze on the divine form, the eternal glory, the heavenly beauty, the tenderly pleading gentleness of the crucified love, as it stretches out its pierced hands and says, “Oh, wilt thou not abide with me? Wilt thou not come and abide in me?" It points you up to the eternity of love whence it came to seek you. It points you to the Cross, and all it has borne to prove the reality of its affection, and to win you for itself. It reminds you of all it has promised to do for you, if you will but throw yourself unreservedly into its arms. It asks you whether, so far as you have come to dwell with it and taste its blessedness, it has not done well by you. And with a divine authority, mingled with such an inexpressible tenderness that one might almost think he heard the tone of reproach in it, it says, “Soul, as the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you: abide in my love." Surely there can be but one answer to such pleading: Lord Jesus Christ! here I am. Henceforth Thy love shall be the only home of my soul: in Thy love alone will I abide.

That love is not only the motive, but also the measure, of our surrender to abide in it. Love gives all, but asks all. It does so, not because it grudges us aught, but because without this it cannot get possession of us to fill us with itself. In the love of the Father and the Son, it was so. In the love of Jesus to us, it is so. In our entering into His love to abide there, it must be so too; our surrender to it must have no other measure than its surrender to us. O that we understood how the love that calls us has infinite riches and fullness of joy for us, and that what we give up for its sake will be rewarded a hundredfold in this life! Or rather, would that we understood that it is a LOVE with a height and a depth and a length and a breadth that passes knowledge! How all thought of sacrifice or surrender would pass away, and our souls be filled with wonder at the unspeakable privilege of being loved with such a love, of being allowed to come and abide in it for ever.

And if doubt again suggest the question: But is it possible, can I always abide in His love? Listen how that love itself supplies the only means for the abiding in Him: It is faith in that love which will enable us to abide in it. If this love be indeed so divine, such an intense and burning passion, then surely I can depend on it to keep me and to hold me fast. Then surely all my unworthiness and feebleness can be no hindrance. If this love be indeed so divine, with infinite power at its command, I surely have a right to trust that it is stronger than my weakness; and that with its almighty arm it will clasp me to its bosom, and suffer me to go out no more. I see how this is the one thing my God requires of me. Treating me as a reasonable being endowed with the wondrous power of willing and choosing, He cannot force all this blessedness on me, but waits till I give the willing consent of the heart. And the token of this consent He has in His great kindness ordered faith to be -- that faith by which utter sinfulness casts itself into the arms of love to be saved, and utter weakness to be kept and made strong.

O Infinite Love! Love with which the Father loved the Son! Love with which the Son loves us! I can trust thee, I do trust thee. O keep me abiding in Thyself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What do you think?

I was talking with a friend who asked me about the Bible studies and wondered if I had sold any. My response was, no, I have not sold either of them to anyone.

I mentioned that I realized that that is because I am "an unknown" as a Bible writer and in the wider Christian Community. No one really knows if the Bible studies I have written are valid, if I am sincere, if I have enough knowledge to write or teach anyone anything from the Bible. I am an "unknown quantity" to them.

It occurred to me that I have a good reputation for Bible teaching at Calvary Chapel Stone Mountain but, outside of that, not much. I'm not famous. I'm not really interested in fame, but I would like people to trust that my studies are, indeed, useful for delving into the Word of God and simply understanding what is actually being said. When you understand what it actually says, and what it truly means, it opens up something inside that lets you begin or helps you continue growing in knowing Christ. And when you "know" Jesus Christ, when you belong to Him, you have the gift of eternal life!

Joh 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

I am not a Bible school graduate. In fact in the "schooling" area, I only graduated from high school. But I know the Holy Spirit has taught me and is teaching me to read the Bible and I share what He has given me. My teachings are simple, direct, and effective. I have often said that I am a "learner who shares."

So, if you have read or used any of the Bible studies that I have sent to you -- or if you have been in one of my classes in the past, would you be willing to write a short paragraph about your experience and how you would evaluate my teaching? Did you learn anything you did not know before? Did you experience God in a different way than before? Did you grow in knowing Christ? What was your experience like? What do you think of my studies or my classes? Would you recommend them to another person? And may I post your comment on the Bible Studies page, so that people know I am not some nut out there making up things, and that my studies are useful and Spirit lead.

If you would be willing to do that for me, I would really appreciate it. Please either send me an e-mail or comment on the blog spot.

And thank you for being willing to put yourself out there for me. If you cannot, that is not a problem, I'll still love you anyway. Thanks.

Grateful to be in Christ with you,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just sharing where I am today

Emotionally I've been kind of "up and down" right now. I am grateful that people from my church have been praying for my anxiety -- the Lord is answering that prayer and guiding me. When I asked Him what to do about this He said, "Relax, and trust in me."

What a relief. Just relax. Take a deep breath and trust Him -- know that God is still God, and He still loves me (and you). I do trust Him for my life, and my well being, and for my provision. Thank you Lord for your goodness.

Yesterday after much prayer and reading my devotional called "Abiding in Christ" by Andrew Murray, I was really at peace because I finally began to understand the verse:

1 Cor 1:30 KJV But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

I really began to feel deeply that by God's grace I am IN Christ Jesus -- and that God purposefully made Him to be my wisdom and my righteousness and my sanctification and my redemption. It finally dawned on me that if Jesus IS these things for me, I do not have to try to be them. He is them for me.

This question really amazed me: If God is our righteousness, how could we maintain it? The answer: Through faith God maintains it for us.

He maintains my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification and my redemption -- I just have to believe it!! And live by faith. The just shall live by faith.

I'm glad I shared that with you, because, today I have been "down" and being reminded of being IN Christ, really lifted my own spirit again.

Grateful to be IN Christ, with you,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1 Peter 3:13-17– Sanctify God in Your Heart

1 Peter 3:13-17– Sanctify God in Your Heart

Lesson 13 -- Written by Marcia McCance
1. What it says:
12  For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers;      But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."
13  And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
14  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."
15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
16 ¶  having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
17  For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
2. What it means:
12  For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers;
A father’s eyes and smiling face are on his children when he sees them being obedient to him, and kind to others.  The eyes of a good father observe and watch over his children. When he is satisfied with them he is also pleased to listen when they desire to speak to Him. Good fathers, give good gifts to their good children. In this same way the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous.
Who are “the righteous?”

2Co 5:21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
His ears are open to the prayers of the righteous – those who have put their faith in Jesus and are walking by the Spirit.
What did Peter tell the husbands about prayer in verse seven?                                                                                                                             
 If we are not walking uprightly in the Spirit of Christ, then the answers to our prayers will be slow in coming, too. But if we walk in the Spirit of Christ, loving God, and His people, God looks on us with pleasure, and His ears are open to our prayers.
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."
Do you recall a time in your childhood when you (or a brother or sister) had done something really wrong and your father (or someone else in authority over you) was displeased and about to punish you?  Describe that face:                                                
 The firm set of the mouth and jaw, the penetrating look of the eyes, displeasure was written all over that face -- a “face that is set against those who do evil.” That face had a plan and intentions and knew exactly how to deal with “this little problem.”
Ps 34:16  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Peter has contrasted “the righteous” and “those who do evil.”  He’s not talking about the sins that we may commit from time to time for which the Holy Spirit convicts us and we repent. He is talking about a “way of life.”  The righteous are those who walk with the Lord as a habit – they practice their faith in Jesus.  “Those who do evil” are those who have “evil” as a “way of life.”
13  And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
And the answer is:

The custom of the world is actually a system of “pay-backs” – they will do to you, what you have done to them -- giving evil for evil, and reviling for reviling – if you are doing good, they usually seek to do you good, also – but not always. In the world, everything is relative – relative to their own perception of things, how they think and how they feel. They are just as likely to persecute you, because you are different. Are we not relieved that God does not change because God is not "relative." God is absolute!!  As He was in the past, He still is and will ever be.
Lu 6:33 "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
14  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.
What does “suffer for righteousness sake” mean?
What does Peter mean? How are you still blessed?

Mt 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This is Peter’s “so what!?”  So you did something nice for that guy, and he stole your geraniums. So what? God has given you eternal life!!  So you gave your last twenty to a homeless woman and she snuck away with your lunch, too. So what? You have Christ as your Savior and Friend! So you shared Jesus with a friend, and now she won’t talk to you! So what? You are headed for a wedding not a funeral!! You are blessed!!  Count your blessings!
"And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."
What is a threat?
What does it mean to be “troubled?”
What is the antonym to “troubled?”
If Peter is telling us not to fear their threats, and not to be troubled – what is he telling us to be?

Peter is quoting scripture again:
Isa 8:11-13  For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: "Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.
This verse points out very clearly that God does not want us to focus our attention on the threats of men nor to fear them – and we are not to copy their ways. He very pointedly states that we are to “let God be our fear and let Him be our dread.” This says to me that the Lord wants our eyes to be on Him, just as His eyes are on us!  He is the sovereign Creator and if He is our Protector, why would we need to fear men who cannot change our destination? Don’t be afraid of them.  Don’t let your heart be troubled.  Trust the Lord who is the Commander of the armies of heaven!! Don’t put your eyes on “them,” put your eyes on HIM!
15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,
What does “sanctify” mean?
Sanctify – bless, consecrate, make holy, make sacred, purify, approve (Antonym: desecrate)                                                      
God is already holy and sanctified in Himself. What does it mean for us to Sanctify God in our hearts? And how do we do this?

It means that we must bless God in our hearts. We acknowledge His holiness in our hearts. When we think of God we think of Him as pure, and holy, and sacred, high and mighty and everlasting – it's almost like our "approval" of God – though He does not need our approval.  Not like the rest of the world that does not know Him, and does not love Him, and even mocks Him. We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts. We are to sanctify God in our hearts.
and always be ready to give a defense
What is a “defense?”
We are to be prepared to defend or explain our belief in Jesus. We don’t have to get caught up in arguments but we do need to be able to state why we, personally, believe in Jesus as our Savior – why we put our trust in Him – or what difference Christ has made in our lives.  This takes thinking ahead -- preparation.  Do you recall a few lessons ago that we talked about how God had called us out of darkness into His marvelous light? We wrote down in two short sentences what darkness He had called us out of, and what changed for us when we came into His marvelous light. That is part of your “defense” or your testimony.
What darkness were you called out of?
Now that you are in His marvelous light, what is different for you?
to everyone who asks you a reason
To whom are we to give our reasons?
for the hope that is in you,
What “hope” is Peter talking about?

Acts 2:26-28  Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
Ac 24:15-16  "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. "This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
Ro 12:12  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
with meekness and fear;
We are not to be argumentative, but to share our testimony of hope with meekness, which is gentleness, and fear. Fear of what?

When I read the following commentary, I knew I could not say it any better. Please read the following”
Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary: 15. sanctify—hallow; honor as holy, enshrining Him in your hearts. So in the Lord’s Prayer, #Mt 6:9. God’s holiness is thus glorified in our hearts as the dwelling-place of His Spirit.
the Lord God—The oldest manuscripts read "Christ." Translate, "Sanctify Christ as Lord."
and—Greek, "but," or "moreover." Besides this inward sanctification of God in the heart, be also ready always to give, etc.
answer—an apologetic answer defending your faith.
to every man that asketh you—The last words limit the universality of the "always"; not to a roller, but to everyone among the heathen who inquires honestly.
a reason—a reasonable account. This refutes … dogma, "I believe it, because the Church believes it." Credulity is believing without evidence; faith is believing on evidence. There is no repose for reason itself but in faith. This verse does not impose an obligation to bring forward a learned proof and logical defense of revelation. But as believers deny themselves, crucify the world, and brave persecution, they must be buoyed up by some strong "hope"; men of the world, having no such hope themselves, are moved by curiosity to ask the secret of this hope; the believer must be ready to give an experimental account "how this hope arose in him, what it contains, and on what it rests" [STEIGER].
with—The oldest manuscripts read, "but with." Be ready, but with "meekness." Not pertly and arrogantly.
meekness—(#1Pe 3:4). The most effective way; not self-sufficient impetuosity.
fear—due respect towards man, and reverence towards God, remembering His cause does not need man’s hot temper to uphold it.
16 ¶  having a good conscience,
What does it mean to have a good conscience?

that when they defame you as evildoers,
What does “defame” mean?

What does “defame you as evildoers” mean?

those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
What does “revile” mean?

What are they reviling?
What will happen to them?

17  For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Describe  what is meant by “suffering for doing good”                                                                                                                  
Describe what is meant by “suffering for doing evil”                                                                                                                  
Which one of these does Peter say is “better.” Why would he say that?

What part does the “will of God” play in this?

3. What I learned from this study:
(Believe, Trust, Conform)


Read again: 1 Peter 3:13-17, at the top of this study – and in another translation
Definitions and Synonyms:
1.      Credulity—gullibility (the tendency to believe something too readily), naivete, innocence
2.      Defame – insult, slander, libel, denigrate, deprecate, disparage, offend, tell lies about
3.      Defense – argument, justification, explanation, excuse, account, reason, description, vindication, plea, apology (apologetics), clarification, details, (Antonym: accusation)
4.      Heathen – unbelievers (a term that unbelievers feel is insulting -- not much used, today)
5.      Righteous – virtuous, moral, good, just, blameless, upright, honorable, honest, respectable, decent (Antonym: sinful)
6.      Roller – breaker, wave – (apparently a slang term from the time period, meaning perhaps: mocker)
7.      Sake -- the ground or reason by which something is or is not done, by reason of, on account of, because of, for this reason, therefore, on this account; (In His name and for His purpose)
8.      Sanctify – bless, consecrate, make holy, make sacred, purify, approve (Antonym: desecrate)
9.      Threat – warning, menace, intimidation, danger, risk, hazard, peril
10.  Troubled – anxious, concerned, bothered, worried, disturbed, distressed, uneasy, unsettled, awkward (Antonym: calm, easy)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1 Peter 3:7-12– Seek Peace and Pursue It

Lesson 12 -- Written by Marcia McCance
1. What it says:
8 ¶  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;
9  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
10  For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.
11  Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12  For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers;      But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."
2. What it means:
8 ¶  Finally, all of you be of one mind,
What would it mean to be of, say, two minds?
What does it mean for all of us to be of one mind? 
Paul’s lesson on how to be of one mind:
Phil 4:1-9 Therefore, my beloved and longed–for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy––meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
The things that Paul tells them:
1.        Stand fast in the lord (this is the basis, the foundation, the prime directive)
2.        Be of the same (one) mind in the Lord (trust in the Lord, together) -- be true companions
3.     Help each other
4.     Rejoice in the Lord
5.        Again he says Rejoice in the Lord   (this is his perfect example of being of one mind!)
6.        He tells us to let your gentleness be known to all men – not your rough exteriors – be kind, be gentle, be patient – have compassion.
7.     Wake up! The Lord is at hand!
8.        Paul’s  recipe for being of one mind is:
a.        Be anxious for nothing!
b.        in everything
c.         by prayer
d.        and supplication,
e.        with thanksgiving,
f.         let your requests be made known to God           We are not to try to impose our will on others, or get from them what we desire through arguments and turmoil. We are to take our requests to God -- with thanksgiving.  You do not have to be anxious, ask the Lord, and trust Him, for He is Able.
9.        The promised result will be the peace of God – not the strife of man – the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
10.    And what will the peace of God do?  Guard your heart   and   your mind   through Christ Jesus!
having compassion for one another;
What is “compassion?”                                                                   
love as brothers,
How do brothers love?                                                                  
be tenderhearted,
“Tenderhearted” means:                                                                  
be courteous;
“Courteous” means?                                                                     
9  not returning evil for evil
Define “evil”                                                                           
The last time you returned “evil for evil” what were you feeling in your heart?                                                                                                                    
Makes me think of the statement made by Ghandi: “An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.”
or reviling for reviling,
What is “reviling”?                                                                      

The last time you returned a “reviling for reviling” what made you do it? 
but on the contrary blessing,
We are instructed to be contrary!!  What does “contrary” mean?                                         
What are we to be contrary towards?                                                         
And how is our “contrariness” to be expressed?                                                  
Remember that feeling you had when you returned “evil for evil” or “reviling for reviling” – that is the feeling that we need to take notice of. When you get that feeling, what should you do?                                            

Jas 1:20  for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
What would you need to pray for, in order to give a blessing to your brother in the face of his reviling

knowing that you were called to this,
What were we called to?                                                                  

Matthew 5: 44-45  "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
that you may inherit a blessing.
If we go contrary to the world when we are reviled, and give a blessing, then we will inherit a what?                    
Peter now describes the blessing(s) we shall receive for following in the footsteps of Christ. ( Psalm 34:11-22):
10  For "He who would love life And see good days,
What does “love life” mean?                                                                
What does “see good days” mean?                                                           
This is the blessing from returning good for evil, and a blessing for reviling: to love life and see good days (sounds like: peace)
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
What does it mean to “refrain” your tongue?”                                                    
What “evils” are we to keep our tongues from?                                                    
And his lips from speaking deceit.
What is deceit?                                                                       
John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
What does “Sanctify ” mean?                                                              
From this we see that we are sanctified, or made holy, by the word of God – which is truth – so deceit is turning away from God.
11  Let him turn away from evil and do good;
There are two instructions here: 1. Turn away from evil, and 2. Do good.
What action do we take when” turning away?”                                                   
From what are we to turn away?                                                             
What are we to do instead?                                                               
One thing that comes into my mind is the thought of “The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. 
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
I had never before figured out why that was such a big deal. I knew that God didn’t like it and it caused the fall, so it must have been a "doozie" –  and I pictured the “fruit” as an apple!  Well it was a "doozie" because they CHOSE to KNOW EVIL. This is the “Biblical know,” meaning “to be intimate with evil! “ The tree bore the fruit of the knowledge of both good AND evil.  But God is only good. This is our dilemma: we know good and evil – but God is only good and separates Himself from evil.
Jeremiah 31:14  I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD."
In Galatians Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit and he also lists the fruit of evil.    Read Galatians 5:13-26
What instruction does Paul give that will help us to turn away from evil and do good? (see verses 16, 25)                      
Paul used the word “contrary” also. What did he say is contrary  (opposed) to one another? 
Those feelings we listed previously are the lust of the flesh.  What must we do with those feelings in order to “walk in the Spirit?” (Verses 24-25)                                                                        

What does “crucify the flesh” mean to you?                          
List the fruit of evil from Galatians 5:                            

List the fruit of the Spirit (of Goodness)                                                                                                                            

We know that God is only good. Yet Adam and Eve chose to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good AND evil.  That was the sin!   It is absolutely amazing that God has chosen to redeem us!  God is so Good!!
Romans 2:4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Romans 11:22  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Romans 6:11  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“To reckon” is a thought process. We must choose to KNOW that In Christ Jesus we are dead to sin (and thereby, turn away from evil) – and in Christ Jesus we are alive to God (and thereby, do good). We cannot draw near to God and continue “to do” evil. We cannot draw near to Him at all, unless He permits it.
John 6:65  And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
Psalms 16:2  O my soul, you have said to the LORD, "You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You."
Give an example from the Bible of someone turning away from evil and doing good:                       

Let him seek peace
What does “seek” mean?                                                                 
What does it mean to seek peace in a situation?                                                                        

and pursue it.
What does “pursue” mean?                                                               
How do you pursue peace?                                                                 
If we were to seek peace but not pursue it, what might be the result?                       
If we were to pursue peace, but not seek it, what might happen?­   ­        ­­­­­­­­­              

Do you see that we must both seek and pursue peace?  We are seeking God’s solutions, and God’s path. If we were to seek peace but not pursue it, what would be the benefit? Our lives would be no different. We’d have more learning, but no better results in our lives. That is called being a hearer of the word, but not a doer.  
James 1: 25-26 (HCSB) But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless.
If we were to pursue our idea of peace, without first seeking God’s idea of peace, we’d end up in one of the philosophies of the world. We’d think it is important to be “politically correct,” rather than to live as Christ teaches us to live. That is called being zealous for good without knowledge of God who only is good.
Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
We must both seek (look for) and pursue (practice) peace. The peace that comes from having compassion, from turning away from evil, and doing good for His sake. And taking our concerns to God. The reward for this is loving life and having good days!
12  For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
Albert Barnes commentary: Verse 12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous. That is, he is their Protector. His eyes are indeed on all men, but the language here is that which describes continual guardianship and care.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
By our faith in Jesus Christ and His work we are called the righteousness of God!
2 Corinthians 5:21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 4:3-8  For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."

And His ears are open to their prayers;
Albert Barnes commentary: And his ears are open unto their prayers. He hears their prayers. As he is a hearer of prayer, they are at liberty to go to him at all times, and to pour out their desires before him.
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."
Psalms 34:16  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
3. What I learned from this study:
(Believe, Trust, Conform)                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ­Read again: 1 Peter 3:7-12, at the top of this study – and in another translation
Definitions and Synonyms:
1.      All – every one, each and every one, every part of, the entire, the complete, the whole, altogether, completely, entirely (“all” means: all)
2.      Compassion – sympathy, empathy, concern, kindness, consideration, care; (Antonym: coldness)
3.      Contrary – opposing, different, differing, divergent, dissimilar, opposite, converse, reverse, obstinate, uncooperative, defiant, difficult, awkward, perverse, stubborn, self-willed (Antonym: cooperative, similar)
4.      Courteous – polite, well-mannered, considerate, chivalrous, civil; (Antonym: rude)
5.      Deceit – dishonesty, treachery, deception, trickery, sham, pretense, cheating, duplicity, falseness, guile, fraud (Antonym: honesty)
6.      Evil – wickedness, sin, iniquity, vice, immorality, criminal, foul, vile, nasty, horrible, unpleasant, revolting, disgusting, obnoxious (Antonym: good, pleasant)
7.      Inherit – come into, be left, accede to, succeed to, become heir to, take over
8.      Knowing – deliberate, intentional, intended, conscious, calculating, aware, perceptive, shrewd; (Antonym: innocent, unconscious)
9.      Pursue – follow, chase, hunt, trail, track, tail, shadow, practice, engage in work at, go in for, take up
10.  Refrain – desist, abstain, avoid doing, cease, renounce, (Antonym: persist)
11.  Reviling – insult, abuse, scorn, condemn, censure, despise, berate, disparage (Antonym: praise)
12.  Sanctify -- 37. agiazw hagiazo hag-ee-ad’-zo; from 40; to make holy, i.e. (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate:— hallow, be holy, sanctify.
13.  Seek – look for, search for, try to find, hunt for, seek out, ask for, inquire about, request
14.  Tenderhearted – kind, gentle, compassionate, sympathetic, soft, tender, sensitive, benevolent, indulgent; (Antonym: hardhearted)