November 26, 2018
LOVE COVERS ALL WITHOUT A COVER-UP
The apostle Peter emphasized the importance of staying together as a Christian community in the face of increasing persecution. The “most important” feature of such a unified community is love. For love doesn’t look for offense or imperfection. Indeed, it overlooks such things, keeping “no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5).
In Genesis 9, Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father’s drunken nakedness and told his brothers about it. However, Shem and Japheth backed into Noah’s tent, covering him with a robe, not wishing to see their father in such a state. Which of the sons acted in love? Wasn’t it the ones who covered their father’s sin?
Peter’s instruction is a reference to the Proverb, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Prov. 10:12). This is not an encouragement to cover-up, compounding one’s sin by lying about it or failing to confront it privately. No, it is a covering of love that patiently seeks to maintain relationship through thick and thin. It looks for the best in others, rather than fault-finding. Love helps the sinner make things right.
It was God’s great love that moved Him to send Christ to be the covering for our sins. For Christ is our covering. His blood has covered our sins. And we are hidden in Him, having “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27), we are now all one in Him. And since our sins are covered, there is no need to cover-up. We can be ourselves in Christ, knowing that we are deeply loved.
November 25, 2018
CHRIST’S POSITION GIVES MEANING TO OUR EXPERIENCE
In the context of encouraging the suffering recipients of his letter, Peter reminded them of Christ’s sufferings, His resurrection and current position of honor. This reminds us that suffering is temporary and that one day we shall be raised to eternal life with Christ. It also strengthens us in our suffering, for Christ is already in authority over all things, so that He is able to help us when we call on Him.
Yet, one other truth is implied, which Paul named in his letter to the Colossians. Speaking of our position in Christ, Paul wrote, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). So, even though we may suffer experientially in this world, our “real life” is already positionally at the right of the Father in Christ. One day, our experience and our position will be one. For we “shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2).
November 23, 2018
WHO BUILDS THE CHURCH?
The Church is not a place, but a people. We have not built it, we are being built into it. While God builds the Church, we are to be the Church. For we are all “holy priests,” offering worship to God through meditation of Christ, the Cornerstone and Great High Priest.
Christ told Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). So, Christ is Cornerstone, Capstone and Builder. And we are the bricks. Our role is not to BUILD the church. Our role is to BE the church. If we will BE the church, Christ will BUILD the church.
November 22, 2018
A BENEDICTION FOR THANKSGIVING DAY
On this Thanksgiving Day 2018, may this benediction be yours. For God has already given so much and more to us. He loved us so much that He gave us His Son, Jesus. This is grace, which is God’s unmerited favor, freely given to those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Peace is the result of this grace received, peace with God and with one another. For Christ is our reconciliation with God and following Him, we have received the ministry of reconciliation, declaring to everyone that God is no longer counting our sins against those who trust Christ.
Yet, the benediction goes further, asking God to give “more and more,” so that our cups runneth over with grace and peace!
Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving Day!
November 26, 2017
The pastor is to serve as an under-shepherd, caring for the “flock of God,” which is the church. He serves under the authority of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. His service is not to be motivated by vainglory, power, nor riches. Yet, he is to rely on the Lord who called him to also provide for him and his family from the work of shepherding. His ultimate motivation is to stay busy with kingdom work, while looking for the Chief Shepherd’s appearing. For on that Day, he will “receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
As I look back on 26 years as a pastor, it has been the awareness that I work for Jesus as an under-shepherd, that the church is His flock, not mine, and that my reward is in His hand, that has sustained me. I have often felt as Isaiah did about my work as a shepherd, but just as he did, I have been encouraged by the Lord’s promise:
“I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.” – Isa. 49:4
November 25, 2017
Peter gave the whole gospel in a single verse. The sinless Christ died for sinners that they might be reconciled to God. Peter emphasized that Christ suffered “once.” There was no need for more. His suffering and death on the cross was sufficient for perpetuity without any need of repetition. The weight and value of His singular sacrifice was sufficient to redeem all who accept His payment for sin. The eternal One exchanged His eternal life for our death sentence. The righteous One paid our sin debt, the “just for the unjust,” with His perfect righteousness. The Son of God offered His sonship, experiencing our separation, that “He might bring us to God” as His children.
O, the worth of His solitary Life! Christ has died “once” and His sacrifice is sufficient for all.
November 23, 2017
How much does a newborn desire mother’s milk? With that level of desire for nourishment and intimacy, the believer is to desire the Word of God. It contains all that the believer needs for spiritual health and growth to maturity. The newborn longs for mother’s breast not only for food, but for comfort. In this too, the Word offers solace and care for the believer as the Spirit applies the “Theopneustos” (“God-breathed” – 2 Tim. 3:16) comfort to their troubled soul.
Do you desire the pure milk of God’s Word today? It’s study is necessary for your spiritual growth. Your desire for it is evidence of your spiritual birth. Do you love God’s Word?
November 24, 2016
As exiles in this world, citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we have been set free from slavery to sin and the world’s system. We live in this world, but we are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Yet, this “freedom” is not a license to sin, but liberty to live for Christ. As Paul said, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom.6:14). So, we live as “servants of God,” freely submitting to the authorities ordained by God, not out of fear or duty, but out of the grace and love of Christ. We have been set free to serve God.
November 26, 2015
A good word for the season. Be “hospitable” (Literally in the Greek, “lover of strangers”). And do it without “grumbling” (murmuring, complaining, the opposite of gratitude). Put them together and you have: THANKS + GIVING. Be ‘giving’ towards everyone, especially strangers and do it with a ‘thankful’ heart. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
November 22, 2015
What are these “things” which angels seek to understand? Aren’t they the same “things” that the Old Testament prophets sought to know? The apostle Peter said that these “things” are the very facts of the gospel of Christ which were seen and heard by the apostles and preached to us who believe. The Spirit revealed the day of Christ to the prophets, yet even though they longed to see it for themselves, they came to understand that they were given a message about a future hope. Jesus described how these prophets must have felt when He spoke of how Abraham “rejoiced” to see the day of Christ’s coming (John 8:56). We now live on the other side of the “things” which the prophets and angels desired to see. The day of Christ’s salvation has already come. And we are the recipients of these “things.” Yet the angels, even though they witnessed the day of Christ, still “desire to look into” it. For they stand outside the work of redemption, in that it was not for them, but for humanity. They stare in wonder at this salvation which is so full of glory and beautiful mystery that the Son of God would endure such “things” to save us.