May 3, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 5:1-14

If you were at CPC Richmond a few weeks ago, you know what lens I see this passage through. You may accuse me of being theologically informed by Pixar, but this Finding Nemo clip made the idea of Satan as “roaring lion seeking to devour” come to life. The angler fish = Satan. Us = Marlin and Dory. The little light: temptation and sin. Check it out:

In this final chapter of 1 Peter, we receive great instruction from an apostle who had to learn the hard way. Peter spoke from experience; he knew the danger that the church was going to face. After all, this Satan who was attacking the church is the same one of whom Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat”. This may be the driving force behind the preliminary admonition to pastors to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (v.2-3).

Before getting to the famous “roaring lion” section, Peter gives us a few more tidbits on fending him off:

• Submit to our spiritual authorities in the church (v.5)
• Live with humility and let God be the one to lift you up (v.5-6)
• Leave your burdens at the foot of the cross (v.7)
• Remember that Jesus cares for you (v.7)
• Keep your eyes open and be alert to the spiritual realities that surround you (v.8)

With all this in mind, he then writes these serious words:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, ESV)

My encouragement to us today is simple: don’t allow sin to reign in your life. Resist temptation and choose what is good and holy. Every sinful enticement you face HAS A STRING ATTACHED. At the end of that string is a roaring lion seeking to kill you. Praise be to God that we have a Lion on our side, too. When you read the whole story, you’ll find that the lion mentioned in 1 Peter 5 meets his doom at the hand of the Lion in Revelation 5.

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…” Revelation 5:5a

Posted by: Todd Thomas

May 2, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Margaret has been a Christian since she was 12 years old. She is at the church every time the doors are open. She has been married to her husband Bill for a couple of years, but they do not have children yet. This past year she has really been facing some difficulty in her life. She lost her job about two weeks ago and is worried about how she and her Bill are going to pay their bills on her his salary alone. Also, she feels like many of her friends at church have stopped talking to her and have turned their backs on her.

The story of Margaret is based on some true events of a couple of different people’s circumstances that I know of. At first glance, it seems like Margaret is going through a trial and if she read our passage today she may categorize herself as sharing in Christ’s suffering. However, if we look a little deeper we may discover a different story all together.

The first question to ask is “what happened at work?” Come to find out Margret had been spending a lot of time on Facebook, and she was not completing the tasks that she had been given by the required deadlines. Her boss had spoken to her about this several times and had been monitoring her computer. Margret had not listened and missed a deadline for a big job which ended up being the final straw.

Second, “Why is she worried about being able to live on her husband’s salary?” Because Margret and her husband have not been faithful to stewarding God’s money and have a lot of credit card debt. Without her income they will not be able to make ends meet.

Third, “Why have her friends stopped talking to her?” Margret has been known as a bit of a busy body and would partake in the occasional gossip. Turns out she had been spreading rumors about a couple of ladies in the women’s ministry and they got wind of it. Now she has found that many of the women are doing things together and not inviting her.

Margret’s story sounds a lot more like the warning that Peter gave in verse 15. Sometimes we experience consequences for our sin and we need to repent. When we face suffering we need to always ask ourselves if there is any sin of our own that we need to take responsibility for.

Yet, if we are able to answer no, then we need to take heart in times of trials because Christ shows himself through our suffering. The ESV Study Bible gives a great encouragement to all believers that I want us to remember today:

Note on 1 Peter 4:14: To be insulted because one belongs to Christ is to be blessed by God, because in such times the Spirit of glory, the Holy Spirit, rests upon believers in an especially powerful way. Further, it is the same Spirit that rested on Jesus (Isaiah 11:2, Matthew 3:16) who now rests upon the believer.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

May 1, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 4:1-11

1 Peter 4 is a powerful chapter!  It has a lot that we need to take in today.  This section is all about living for God.  It shows us what that will look like.

Verses 1-6 tell us about the Change of Life that comes from us meeting Jesus.  Peter summarizes in verse two, saying:

You won’t spend the rest of your life chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

Does that sound like you?

He goes on:

You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy – their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols (anything we put ahead of God).

Take a moment right now and think about how God has changed you since you met Him.

What’s different in your life now?  How are you different from those you know who don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus?

Reflect on these verses…

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  1 John 2:15

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

Verses 8-11 remind us that the change that Christ makes causes us to care for others.

In Love (v.8)

Love is the most important thing we do.  Loving God and loving others.

How has your love for those in your family and around you been evident this week?

In Hospitality (v.9)

Open your home, share a meal, provide for a need…

When’s the last time you did this?

In Service (v.10-11)

How do you regularly serve God and His church?

Are you using the spiritual gifting that God gave you?

Posted by: Tim Parsons

April 30, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 3:13-22

Apologetics & Suffering

Today we read one of the most popular passages in Scripture among Christians when discussing the importance of apologetics (the defense of our Christian faith).

1 Peter 3:15 says:

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

I can write a whole sermon, let alone small devotion on this passage alone but I’d rather take the time to focus on its surrounding verses. Before and after Paul mentions the importance of defending our faith (always be prepared, you will be asked when showing the hope within you) and how to do it (with gentleness and respect), he shares the context in which the church is to share their faith. That context is one of suffering. This is important because I think it’s easiest to defend our beliefs when our beliefs seem to be profiting us. But can we honor Christ as Holy in our hearts and defend our faith when it seems like the world is crumbling around us (vs. 14, 16 & 17). Can you defend God’s Word concerning the sanctity of marriage when labeled as a bigot for doing so? Can you tell someone that there is only one way to Heaven when called simple-minded for saying so? Can you share the Gospel when that very Gospel message will put your life and families’ life in danger for doing so? If you thought defending your faith was already hard enough, read beyond verse 15 and see the context in which Peter is telling us to do so. Thankfully, we’re reminded that it was God’s Will for Christ to suffer for us and, like Jesus; we are blessed and many times used by God when suffering for the Gospel (vs. 17-18).

Now for the two confusing and at times controversial topics in the chapter:

Jesus preaches to the “imprisoned spirits” who didn’t listen to Noah? (vs. 18-20)

These passages have been interpreted in three different ways. Two that fit along with our general orthodoxy of Christian faith and one that does not. The first interpretation explains the “imprisoned spirits” as actual lost human beings from Noah’s day who are now suffering judgment for lack of obedience and faith. The Spirit of Christ was actually speaking through Noah as an OT prophet and was trying to save them from God’s upcoming wrath. This passage just brings this up as it refers to the waters of the flood as they relates to the next controversial subject in this chapter, baptism. This belief was held by many church fathers like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and somewhat John Calvin.

The second interpretation is that the “imprisoned spirits” are fallen angels who are in hell waiting for the final judgment. The message Christ proclaimed would’ve been one of final victory over sin, Satan, these fallen angels and death instead of a proclamation of salvation for the demons. The following link helps explain this interpretation.

The third interpretation is that Jesus actually went to hell and offered salvation to lost souls. This goes against much of Scripture which indicates that our opportunity to respond to the Gospel is only here on earth (Luke 16:26, Heb. 9:27).

Baptism as a means of salvation? (vs. 21-22)

The last two passages talk about baptism and the ark of Noah. In both illustrations, the waters of baptism and the waters surrounding Noah’s ark (I’m pretty stoked for the upcoming Russell Crowe Noah flick, by the way) represent a sense of God’s judgment and that the ark and Jesus save us from that judgment. Some people like to use this passage to justify the false doctrine of baptism being necessary for salvation because it says “Baptism… now saves you” but those people seem to ignore the following sentence “not as a removal of dirt from the body” which indicates that the passing of water over the body does not cleanse anyone. When Peter wrote vs. 21 he was saying that what baptism represents saves you; just like Lord’s Supper and the covenant of marriage don’t save someone. It’s what each one of these things represent that does the miraculous work of salvation; and what they all represent is the Gospel clearly proclaimed in verse 18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Posted by: Erik Koliser