Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1st Peter 3 - Unjust suffering

"Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong." (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Even if we do what is right, we may still suffer the pain, rejection, and ridicule of those who do not understand the ways of God. We will not always be loved by all people, and some may even hate us for our faith and our right living, however this should not dissuade us from the way that is right. Peter gives some advice on how to deal with the unfair rejection and the suffering that sometimes comes from doing right.

First, we are not to fear them nor their intimidation. Jesus told us, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) None of the suffering we may experience from others in this life is eternal but rather temporal. Our life on this earth, in comparison to eternity, is quite short. That is why Paul confessed, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) and taught that these, "momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." (2 Corinthians 4:17) We must see our life in the greater light of eternity in order to see how insignificant our present sufferings are.

Secondly, we are to let Jesus and His Word be the lord of our hearts and not our fear of others or our fear of suffering. We must let Jesus replace the fears in our heart. This is not always easy and may take practice and repetition, overthrowing fear by the word and presence of Jesus, but the end result is worth it and is greater peace and joy lasting from day to day. We need to understand that we are no longer to be slaved to the opinions, expectations, and estimations of others. Paul tells us that, "you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again." (Romans 8:15) Slavery breads fear. If we are slaves to the thoughts and intents of others, then we will have fear. However, if we understand that we are now sons and daughters of God, then there is no reason for fear. This is why John said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18 NKJV) The more we allow God's love into our hearts', the less room there is for fear; fear of man and fear of what they can do to us.

Thirdly, we are to always be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is in us to anyone who asks us. There are two interesting Greek words used here. First is the word for "answer" which is the Greek word from which we get our word "apology". This does not mean that we should apologize for our beliefs, but rather be ready to give a well thought out answer or explanation for our beliefs. It not always sufficient to just give the "what" of our faith but sometimes we need to explain the "why" of our faith; why we believe what we believe. We should be always ready to give our defense of the Gospel and of our beliefs, but this will require us to grow in understanding and wisdom; taking a path from infancy to maturity. The second word of interest is the Greek word for "reason", it is the Greek word Logos and the same word John uses to describe Jesus, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2) Here, every instance of the English word "word" is the Greek word Logos. Jesus is the Logos of God and we, as His body, should always be willing and ready to be His Logos here on the earth. When God wanted to communicate Himself to the world, He sent His Logos, and we too are to be His Logos here and now. This should motivate us to use great care and integrity when responding with an answer to anyone who asks, not only in words but also in character and action, "with gentleness and respect."

Finally, in all things, we should seek to maintain a pure and clean conscience so that, even if we are slandered, there will be nothing in our lives to give any justification to those things in which we are slandered.. This is something the old Law could never do. The writer of Hebrews, speaking of the old Law, says "Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation." (Hebrews 9:9-10) However, as believers in Christ, not only can we have our sins forgiven, but we can also have our consciences washed and purged from all that would define and cause us shame. However, notice that Peter understands that the obtaining of a pure and clean conscience will require the exercise of our own wills; it is something we must choose, and something that we must practice. A clean conscience is not automatic and will take effort on our part along with the grace given to use by God. However, for those who have obtained a pure conscience, what of this life could ever trouble them again?

David Robison

Monday, July 29, 2013

1st Peter 3 - Called to harmony

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead." (1 Peter 3:8-9)
All the commands to husbands and wives, citizens and servants, have lead up to this point, that God wants us to live in harmony with all people, as much as it depends on us. Paul writes, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18) Given a choice, God desires us to choose peace over strife and reconciliation over alienation; when offended, to bless, when wronged, to forgive. It is as Jesus said, "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek." (Matthew 5:39) When conflict arises, we should seek resolution and not escalation. It should not be tit-for-tat or blow-for-blow. I have seem many marriages where a simple conflict blows way out of proportion where each seeks to return a verbal blow with another blow with increasing force and pain. One wounds and the other returns in kind. Such a life is contrary to the life of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and peace that we have been called to.
"For you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, 'The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.' " (1 Peter 3:9-12)
Called for what purpose? For pursuing peace and reconciliation with our fellow man. I have known people who have lived in contentious relationships and, to a one, they have been relationships that were devoid of blessing. King Solomon spoke of the grief that comes from contentious relationships. "It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman." (Proverbs 21:19) and to show that not only women can be contentious, "Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife." (Proverbs 26:21) The Hebrew word for "contention" speaks of a contest or a quarrel. When, in any relationship, we contend for our own rights and needs, we sow discord and strife, and blessing if far from us. However, when we honor and content for the rights and needs of the other, then harmony surrounds us and blessing if our attendant. Stopping the cycle of contention is hard, and even harder the more it gets "wound up." That is why Paul reminds us to, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." (Ephesians 4:26-27) The longer we allow contention and anger to marinate our relationships, the harder it is to resolve and to reconcile both parties to peace. We must learn to stop the cycle of blow-for-blow by being willing to "turn the other cheek" and to be willing to receive wrong without responding in kind. Paul asks this question, "Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren." (1 Corinthians 6:7-8) Why not rather be wronged? Why must we sacrifice blessing for winning some relational contest? Why not rather pursue peace and the blessings that follows? This is the purpose we have been called to.

David Robison

Sunday, July 28, 2013

1st Peter 3 - A husband's care

"You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
Peter now turns his attention to the husbands and commands them, "in the same way," in what way? As free people voluntarily committing themselves to what is right and good. In this way a man is to approach his relationship with his wife, in a commitment to what is right and good. It is interesting that in all the instructions to husbands in the scripture there is no command for them to ensure that their wife is living up to the commands that have been given to her. Each one, husband and wife, are called to voluntarily commit themselves to the word of God and to what is right. It is not the role of the other to ensure the compliance of their partner in these matters. Each must look after their own lives before God.

It has been said that the Bible does not ask men to understand their wives but simply to be understanding. While funny, its not entirely true. However, the idea of living with them according to knowledge implies attention and an interest in the needs and concerns of another. To live according to knowledge you will need to study them and know them that you might contemplate and understand their needs, ideas, thoughts, and wants. One of the greatest revelations that men can arrive at is that their wives are not them, they are a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some men cannot understand their wives because they expect them to act and think like they do, but there not them! If we can learn to see our wives as the unique creation of God that they are then we will be on our way to understanding them and loving them like God asks us to.

I think the New American Standard Bible does a disservice when, in translating this verse, it refers to the wife as, "someone weaker." A better translation is, "giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel." (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV) A weaker vessel, not a weaker person. A woman's soul is just as strong as a man's soul, but in the flesh, women are weaker. Now I know this is a generality and there are many women, I am sure, that are stronger than me. However, we would be foolish to buy into the popular political correct speech to say that women are on every way equal to men. Men and women are different and, I concur with those who speak of the feminine sex as the fairer sex. What this means in a marriage is that, as husbands, we must be careful not to load our wives down with concerns and physical burdens beyond their ability to care for them. We must be willing to help at every turn, to lift their load, to lighten their burden. We cannot sit idly by while we expect our wives to work morning to night trying to meat our needs, demands, and expectations. This is not the way to live with them in honor or in understanding. When I have had a hard day, I can come home and my wife will life me up. When she has had a hard day then I can lift her up when I come home. However, when we both have had a hard day then I have a choice to make. Will I demand my own needs, or will I put on strength and lift her up, being the stronger one in the moment. I believe that it is the calling of men to be strong for their wives, even when we don't feel like it. To be their support and help even when needing it ourselves.

Peter further challenges husbands to see their wives as fellow heirs in Christ. In the Song of Solomon, the bridegroom consistently refers to his bride as, "my sister, my bride." (Song 4:9) Men, when you take a Christian bride, you must remember that she was your sister first; your equal in the things of God. She is not your servant nor another one of your children, she is your sister, your bride. As husbands, we must ask ourselves, would our Father be pleased with how we are treating our sister, His daughter? We are not the king, but even if we are, she would be the queen, full of royal power, beauty, and authority. Men, we cannot find progress in the Kingdom of God if we dishonor and mistreat our fellow sojourners in the way. We cannot please God my bringing suffering to His children. This not only includes those you sit next to on Sunday, but also your wife, who first belongs to God. Our wives are our equal and, if we can grasp this, our marriages will be filled with greater harmony, joy, and love.

David Robison

Saturday, July 27, 2013

1st Peter 3 - A wife's modesty

"Your adornment must not be [merely] external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Throughout the millennia, people have remained the same. Clement of Alexandria wrote of the women of the second century, "Accordingly they season the flesh like a pernicious sauce; and the day they bestow on the toilet shut up in their rooms, so as not to be caught decking themselves. But in the evening this spurious beauty creeps out to candle-light as out of a hole; for drunkenness and the dimness of the light aid what they have put on. The woman who dyes her hair yellow... stain her cheeks... paint her eyes." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 2) Nor was it only the women who were addicted to their outward appearance. Clement also writes of the men who sought to remove hair from their body, "For their service the towns are full of those who take out hair by pitch-plasters, shave, and pluck out hairs... whose whole body is made smooth by the violent tuggings of pitch-plasters... But the using of pitch to pluck out hair..., and in the act of bending back and bending down, the violence done to nature’s modesty by stepping out and bending backwards in shameful postures" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 3) We live in a culture that pays great praise for a person's outward appearance with little regard to the beauty or ugliness that lies inside.

One of the greatest sins that the early church warned against was that of luxury. The early church writers called believers to be people of modesty, temperance, and simplicity. This outward form of our existence is passing away while it is the character of our inner man and woman that is eternal. "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV) How different we would be if we paid as much attention to preparing our inner man as we do in beautifying our outer man. It is the inner things, the eternal things, that are pleasing to God and, in marriage, that promotes lasting happiness and blessings. Beauty is fading. A marriage based on outward appearance rarely lasts, but one that is built upon the recognition of the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit will long last. Let this be our goal and pursuit.
"For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." (1 Peter 3:5-6)
Look at the women honored in the scriptures, both old and new. These were not mousy milk-toast women, they were women of strength, character, faith, and action. In fact, Irenaeus believed that, in some ways, women were actually stronger and superior to men. Speaking of the fall of man, he wrote, "And if thou sayest that it attacked her as being the weaker of the two, [I reply that], on the contrary, she was the stronger, since she appears to have been the helper of the man in the transgression of the commandment. For she did by herself alone resist the serpent, and it was after holding out for a while and making opposition that she ate of the tree, being circumvented by craft; whereas Adam, making no fight whatever, nor refusal, partook of the fruit handed to him by the woman, which is an indication of the utmost imbecility and effeminacy of mind." (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Ireaeus, Chapter 14) Let these be the pattern you aspire to emulate, rather than the woman of the world. These were free women, women of purpose and character, women committed to what was right and good, and women who were not afraid. The Greek word for "fear" is only used in this passage and means "alarm" or "amazement". These were women of faith and courage who were not afraid of anything life could throw at them. Regardless of the circumstances or conditions that presented themselves, they met them with faith and courage banishing all fear and terror. What holy and godly role models for all today.

David Robison

Friday, July 26, 2013

1st Peter 3 - A wife's submission

"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior." (1 Peter 3:1-2)
In most churches you don't hear a lot of sermons on this verse for this verse is like vinegar to many; setting their teeth on edge. Many people protest against this scripture by denouncing what they think it says, even thought it does not, or by reacting to how people obey this scripture, even though they do not. Much has been reviled and rejected of this scripture based on a false understanding of what it says and/or commands. Peter just finished exhorting us to submit our selves to every human institution, and then says, "in the same way..." We readily submit to our government and their laws; their laws being a kind of final arbiter of our behavior. However, in what way are we to submit to our government? As free people voluntarily submitting to what is good and right. In this same way, Peter calls wives to submit to their husbands, as free people voluntarily submitting to what is good. This is not an absolute submission, but a submission to want is right.

This scripture does not teach that only men are to make the decisions or that women do not, or should not, have a say in those decisions. Consider Abraham and Sarah. Sarah was no silent mouse and was not afraid to speak her mind to Abraham. It was Sarah who convinced Abraham to sleep with Hagar, a time when he should not have listened to his wife, and it was also Sarah who advised Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away, a time when he should have listened to her. On this occasion, God said, "whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her." (Genesis 21:12) There are also plenty of scriptures that describe a wife's role in a marriage, that she should be governing, industrious, and generous. Consider just a few verses from Proverbs 31. "She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong... She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future." (Proverbs 31:16-17, 24-25) This is not often what we think of when we think of a submissive wife, but it is what God thinks of.

The whole matter of submission, in my opinion, centers around authority. My boss is a woman and a woman owns our company. I am free to state my opinion and to vigorously lobby for the direction I believe is best for the company, but when a decision is made, I need to submit to it and pull together with the other workers in trying to achieve the direction set by that decision. In any given human organization, there needs to be one who is ultimately responsible for making a decision and it is the responsibility of others to accept and follow that decision. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my wife and I were at opposite positions on what was best for our family, and at those times, I had to make the final decision and the blame or praise for that decision fell directly to me. Sometimes they were good decisions, sometimes, not so good, but they were my decisions and we all proceeded on.

I hope this suffices to briefly explain what my position is on submission in the home. Authority does not infer merit, but without it, anarchy and chaos can ensure, and God is a God of order. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV)

Finally, let's be certain about the purpose of submission. Our submission to governments is mean to demonstrate the nature of God by our commitment to what is right, holy, and good. It is also to silence those ignorant fools who slander the way of God without understanding the way of God. Our good behavior is to be a beacon to some and a rebuke to others. The same is true with submission in marriage; a wife's good behavior can demonstrate the nature of God to her children and unbelieving husband to draw them to Christ. Where words are plentiful, their meaning diminishes, but actions speak louder than words. We submit, not because we are inferior, but freely that we might represent God to those around us and to those in the world.

David Robison

Sunday, July 21, 2013

1st Peter 2 - Called for suffering

"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:21-22)
No one likes to think of suffering, but Peter says that we were called for this very purpose, but not for the purpose of suffering, but for the suffering that comes from doing what is right. Paul promises us that, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim 3:12). It's not that we seek suffering, or even desire suffering, but we gladly face the suffering that is ours from doing rightly. When we do what's right and suffer for it, we rejoice and gladly accept it, for we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
"and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1 Peter 2:23)
Here is the key to bearing up under unjust sufferings: our focus should not be towards those who are causing our sufferings but rather towards God who is able to give us strength in our sufferings and to deliver us and vindicate us by His judgment. Jesus is the ultimate model of one who suffered unjustly, even to the point of death. He did no evil and no sin was found in Him, yet He was judged and crucified as a common criminal. However, thoughout all of this He entrusted Himself to God in doing what was right. So should our attitude be, that no matter what we face in this world, and Jesus did promise, "In the world you will have tribulation." (John 16:33 NKJV), we should set our face towards God and continue in doing good, no matter what the personal cost. Speaking of the righteous, David said, "He swears to his own hurt and does not change." (Psalm 15:4)
"and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25)
Finally, Peter reminds us of that good that Jesus did and its benefit towards us. Jesus suffered for us and we benefited. Jesus suffered not for Himself, but for us; the righteous for the unrighteous. Even when we were His enemies and wandering far from Him, He died to reconcile us. Jesus was not concerned for His own personal comfort nor was He concerned with being right in the eyes of man, rather He was motivated by something greater. "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Certainly, part of that joy was the glory He now shares with His Father, but Peter also intimates that part of that joy was in seeing our own healing, righteousness, and reconciliation to the Father. The joy set before Jesus was not only those things that He stood to receive from His Father, but also the joy in knowing that, along with Himself, He would bring many along who would also share those same gratifications with Him in the presence of His God. "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Hebrews 2:10-11)

David Robison

Friday, July 19, 2013

1st Peter 2 - Freely submit

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God." (1 Peter 2:13-16)
The Greek word for "institution" simply means some formation, in fact, in the New Testament scriptures it is translated almost exclusively as "creation" or "creature". Thus it applies to any form or means by which men choose to organize themselves; as states, tribes, or groups. We are called to submit to all human institutions in doing what is right. However, this is not an unconditional submission, as even Peter disobeyed the Roman government when its will conflicted with God's will, but this is a conditional submission in doing what is right, not what is wrong. The goal of our submission is the silencing, or literally, the muzzling of ignorant men who malign Christianity though they do not understand it. Our good behavior should always testify to the truth of our faith even if others are misinformed or ignorant regarding it. We should offer this submission as free men and women. Even in an oppressive state we can still offer submission as free people of God, showing that while we are not bond-slaves of the government, but rather free in Christ, we are still bond-slaves of God. We are free in Christ, so why should we submit in obedience to any human institution? We submit to show what is good and right in the sight of God and to show that true freedom is found in being bound to God.
"Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. " (1 Peter 2:17)
Paul said to "Render to all what is due them" (Romans 13:7) but what is do to each one? We are to honor all people. To honor is to apply value to something. We are to value all people as being made by God, as being His own creation, worthy of being His sons and daughters. Honoring them by putting their needs above our own and attending to their cares. However, beyond honor, we are to love the brethren, our fellow brothers and sisters of Christ. We should love them with all tenderness and affection as we would those of our own family. Not only are they people of value, but they are our own flesh and blood, born through the flesh and blood of Christ. And beyond honor and love, we are to fear God, not with the fear of terror, but with the fear of awe, respect, and obedience. Problems occur when we extend brotherly love to those who are not our brothers and sisters. Even Paul warns us saying, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14) Similarly, we are to fear God not man. Solomon warns us that, "The fear of man brings a snare." (Proverbs 29:25) Honor, love, and fear, to each as each deserves.
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God." (1 Peter 2:18-20)
Submission is not always easy or pleasant and sometimes comes with a price, but the world is watching to see how we will bear up under such hardship to see whether or not there is any real power in the Gospel of Christ. Everybody expects suffering as the result of doing wrong, but when one suffers for doing good, their true nature is tested. If, when we are unjustly treated, we continue to do what is right, we please God and witness to His reality and power to all who are watching. When we continue in doing what is right, both when it is easy and when it is hard, we please God and provide a testimony to the world that God is good.

David Robison

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1st Peter 2 - A precious stone

"For this is contained in Scripture: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.' This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, 'the stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,' and 'a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." (1 Peter 2:6-8)
Christianity, at its core, is not about a creed or a manor of life, it is about a person and our relationship to Him. When the apostles when throughout the world, the did not go simply to teach a new doctrine or to persuade people to adopt a new belief system, they went to introduce people to a person; one who has become the corner stone, one who, if a person builds their lives upon Him, they would never be disappointed. For us who have believed, Jesus has become very precious, He has become our redeemer, our savior, and the very foundation of our lives, beliefs, and obedience. However, for those who have rejected Him, He has become a rock of offense and a rock of stumbling. Notice that they stumble over Him because they are disobedient to the word. Once being introduced to Jesus we have the choice of whether or not to make Him the corner stone of our lives; we much chose whether or not to make Him Lord of our lives and this means choosing whether or not to obey Him. If we are in relationship with Jesus then we ought to obey Him. However, while many people want Jesus, they still want to live lives on their own terms. They are like the men in the parable who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." (Luke 19:14 NKJV) You cannot possess the corner stone and yet build your life your own way, you must obey the corner stone and build your life in right relationship with Him.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)
We must take care not to boast in whom we have become, for it was not by our own strength or righteousness that we have become great in the Kingdom of God but it was God who found us, who chose us, and who made us what we were not; we were not a people yet He made us a people, we had not received mercy yet He showered His mercy on us. All this working is from God and not ourselves, and God did this for a purpose, that we might show forth both the power and the love of God for mankind. Our lives are to be living testimonies of the goodness of God. People should be able to see in our lives the working of God, a working that only God can do, a working that is beyond all human strength and ability. 
"Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2:11-12)
Our lives are meant to bring glory to God, therefor it behooves us to adopt a lifestyle that is in keeping with the goodness and holiness of God. Paul put it this way, "I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." (Ephesians 4:1) We must live our lives like people are watching us, because they are; they are watching to see if our message is true, to see if God is really powerful enough to change a life, and to see if God can be trusted. Many people will make a decision regarding Jesus based on what they see more than what they here. We must never by like those whom Paul said, "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Romans 2:24 NKJV)

David Robison

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

1st Peter 2 - Pure milk

"Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Our journey into the Kingdom of God starts with our introduction into the goodness and kindness of God. In coming to Christ we come to experience His love, forgiveness, and adoption. We also get a taste of " the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." (Hebrews 6:5) While such kindness draws us to Him it should also motivate us to action. "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4) Much of our Christian walk is the laying aside of somethings that we might pick up others. We cannot become mature men and women of God without first becoming as innocent as babes through the cleansing of our souls of all passions that wage war against us and against the kingdom of God. This is our responsibility; God has freed us from sin and given us power to live a holy life and it is now our turn to chose such a life for ourselves. Having made the choice, and having left behind the passions of the soul, we ought to desire the pure milk of His word that we might grow in all things pertaining to salvation. However, such milk is to be found only in Him and His Kingdom. It is His kingdom that is "a land flowing with milk and honey." (Exodus 3:8) and it is only in Him that we can "buy wine and milk without money and without cost." (Isaiah 55:1).
"And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 2:4)
When counting the cost of a life lived for God, we must be willing to accept a life that may put us at odds with the world around us. There will be those who ridicule you and reject you; even old friends will be "surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you." (1 Peter 4:4) The Christian walk is not a walk for people who want to be popular and loved by all, but one where we will certainly face persecution from others, and sometimes even from those of our own family. "A man's enemies are the men of his own household." (Micah 7:6) However, this is the life that Jesus chose; He was not loved by all and was rejected and killed by others, yet He was loved by God. This is the same life He has called us to live, a life lived not based on what others think about us but a life lived based on what God thinks about us. "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (Hebrews 13:12-14)
"you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)
While we will certainly experience the rejection and ridicule of some, we are, however, being built into a spiritual house with other believers, a house that is filled with Him; a house where it is not all about us, but all about Him. In this house, built together with other believers, we offer Him service in our worship and in our prayers for the world. God is looking to fill a house just like He did with the tabernacles that Moses built, "the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar." (Leviticus 9:23-24) and just like He did with the temple that Solomon build, "fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house." (2 Chronicles 7:1) and just like He did on the day of Pentecost, "And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:3-4) Today, we are that tabernacle and that temple that God wants to fill with His glory. However, He wants a house that can contain the glory He desires to pour out. Such a house requires that we be built together as brothers and sisters in Christ; built together relationally and functionally and parts of a greater whole. Only then will His house be able to contain Him who fills all in all.

David Robison

Saturday, July 13, 2013

1st Peter 1 - A purified soul

"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart" (1 Peter 1:22)
Christianity is a social religion. It is predicated not only on the love of God but also on the love for each other. A true Christian is not one who only loves God but one who also loves the brethren. Jesus, speaking of the commandments of God, said, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31) Both commandments are inseparable, we must love God and our neighbor as ourselves. However, unfeigned love can only come from a purified soul and the process of purification requires obedience and obedience flows from faith. If we believe the truth then we must obey the truth and the truth calls us to purify our souls by casting out all that defiles from within. Faith and obedience are inseparable like to sides of one coin. The write of Hebrews said, "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief." (Hebrews 3:18-19) Faith and obedience, you cannot have one without the other.
"for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, 'All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' And this is the word which was preached to you." (1 Peter 1:23-25)
The word of God is not another philosophy, creed, or religion, it is the everlasting word of truth. Philosophies and religions come and go but the truth of God remains forever. It is fixed forever by the trustworthiness of God. King David says of God's word, "I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Psalms 138:2 NKJV) God's word is sure and, because it is sure, we can confidently give our obedience to it knowing that His word will never fail. When we obey His word we are giving ourselves to something that is eternal. God's word is not just anther fad or the latest philosophy, it is eternal and ever true and worth of our faith and obedience.
David Robison

Friday, July 12, 2013

1st Peter 1 - Be holy

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' " (1 Peter 1:14-16)
We are all being conformed to one pattern or another; either to the world by yielding to its temptations or to the Lord through obedience to His will. This conformation is the direct result of our choices; we choose who we will be like through the behavior we adopt. Peter calls us "obedient children" but the question is, to whom are we obedient? To our lust that we might follow after sin or to the Lord that we might pursue a path of holiness? The obedience is our's as the choosing is our's, and our choice is more than choosing what we will believe, it is a choosing of how we will behave. Notice that the injunction is to be holy in all our behavior not simply in our thoughts and beliefs. The goal of our obedience and our pursuit of holiness is to be like God; to be holy that we might be like Him since He too is holy.
"If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;" (1 Peter 1:17)
We must never allow our love of God to nullify our fear of God. We can both love God and fear Him at the same time. Peter, in this letter, writes of two types of fear; one is the fear of God which is holy, right, and beneficial while the other is the fear of the world and of those who would dissuade us from our holy life, this fear is to be overcome. The fear of the Lord is clean (Psalms 19:9), it is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10), it is the beginning of Knowledge (Proverbs 1:7), it prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27), it brings strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26), it is a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27), it keeps us from evil (Proverbs 16:6), it leads to life (Proverbs 19:23), and it brings riches and honor (Proverbs 22:4).
"knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers" (1 Peter 1:18)
We cannot expect to walk as a Christian and continue to live as we always have, nor can we look to the past to know how we should live in the future. Jesus came not only to save us but to redeem us from the way we were living; from a life inherited from our forefathers. He came to introduce us to a new way of living, to a life we have now inherited from His Father. As we have changed fathers, an earthly one for a heavenly one, so are we to change our life, from an earthly one to a heavenly one. The distinction between these two lives is demonstrated by the price required to make the change. This is more than changing our careers, which might require some effort, training, and money, but a changing of our whole life and lifestyle, which required a price much greater than gold and silver.
"but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:19-21)
The price of our redemption was the death of Jesus. This price identifies both the depths of our fallenness and the heights of our value to God. So great is our sin and so far have we wandered from God that we are unable to restore ourselves to God. No amount of good works or good intentions can ever be sufficient to erase the stain of sin in our lives and restore us to God. The only remedy was for God Himself to come and pay the penalty for our sin that we might  be reconciled back to Him. This God freely did, not out of duty or compulsion, but out of the love He has for us. He did this, not for Himself only, but for "for you". God did what we could not do ourselves. Therefore, our hope of salvation is not in ourselves, our ability, or our willingness, but in God who is able to do all things.

David Robison

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

1st Peter 1 - Prepare for action

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action" (1 Peter 1:13)
A more literal translation of this verse is "girded up the loins of your mind." (Darby) There is a difference between our minds and our emotions; one is reactive and one proactive, one is led and one leads. God is calling us to be people of action, not led around by emotions or circumstances, but led around by what we know, think, believe, and choose. In our Christian life we all face difficult times, decisions, and temptations. God is calling us to prepare our minds now for those difficult times yet to come.  It is said of those who overcame that "they did not love their life even when faced with death." (Revelation 12:11) However, the time to choose to "not love your life" is not when you are facing death. it is now! Now we must choose how we will respond then, now we must make the decisions that we will face in the future. Now we must prepare our minds so that, when difficulty comes, and it will, we will be mentally prepared and ready to choose for God and for His Kingdom.
"keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13)
Again, Darby translates this as, "[be] sober [and] hope with perfect stedfastness" (Darby) This should be the manor of our lives: sobriety as we face our todays and hope as we face our tomorrows. Each day calls for its own special attention and we are to live each day with care and watchfulness. The opposite of sobriety is dissipation, of which the whole world runs after. Jesus warns us against such a life, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap." (Luke 21:34) We must live a life of sobriety with constant watchfulness and circumspection let we too fall into the trap of the world and wander far from the Kingdom of God. Along with sobriety for today, we need hope for tomorrow. Jesus taught us to, "not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) While we take care of today we have hope for tomorrow. This hope is not a "wishing" hope but a hope that is founded in the Lord. It is a hope that is founded in the belief that one day He will return for us. In that day all will be put right, sin will be banished, and righteousness will reign. This is the day we hope for, the day of His return. This is the hope that enables us to live our todays.

David Robison

Monday, July 08, 2013

1st Peter 1 - The necessity of trials

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials" (1 Peter 1:6)
It is very easy to lose our perspective on life when we face trials and tribulations. We can become so absorbed in what Paul refers to as our "momentary, light afflictions" (2 Corinthians 4:17) that we lose sight of the bigger picture: our reconciliation to God, our forgiveness of sins, our hope in an eternal future, and the ever presence of grace in our lives. When we allow our gaze to drop to the point where all we see is our trouble then we lose our "great rejoicing." Rejoicing should be the normal state of our life even if, from time to time, we must face trials and tribulations in our life. Difficult times will come and go, but our position in God will never change. No matter what happens to us, there will always be reason for rejoicing, even in the midst of trials. "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. " (Psalm 30:5)
"so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7)
Trials from God are never random or merely pernicious, they are always sent for a reason; "if necessary..." The distressing of our souls is always meant to produce in us the qualities and character of God. The testing of gold is a process by which the gold is heated up in a furnace until it melts and all the impurities float to the surface. The impurities are then skimmed off and the process repeated until the gold is completely purified. The refiner knows when the process is complete when he can see him reflection in the molten gold. The same is with the testing of our faith; circumstances come to cause the dross of our souls to be exposed that they might be removed by repentance and forgiveness. This process is repeated until the reflection of our Father can be clearly seen in our lives. There are few things more precious to God than our faith and He will do all within His power to see that faith perfected.
"obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9)
Salvation is not a singular event but rather a process that continues over a life time. Paul said, "who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1:10) Our salvation begins with our deliverance from eternal death and ends with "our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:23) However, in the in-between time, God works a saving work in our souls as we continue to walk with Him by faith. The outcome of our faith, and our endurance in the face of necessary trials, is the sanctification of our souls in the removal of all things that offend. The Greek word for salvation is a rich word and means to heal, protect, make whole, cleanse, and to save. The salvation of our souls is our soul's healing of all its wounds, the protection from all defilement of the world, and the cleansing of all impurities that we might stand before God holy and blameless. This is the outcome of our faith.
"and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8)
Herein defines our faith; that even though we cannot not see God, yet we believe in Him and love Him. While there are many spectacular stories of supernatural experiences people have had; visitations of angles, appearances of Jesus, third heaven experiences; this is not the norm for most Christians. While such experiences would truly be a blessing, and do in fact happen today, they are not to be our hope or the foundation of our faith. Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:29) Our faith must not rest on what we see but rather on what we know through faith. The evidence of God is all around us and, even more, the testimony of His Spirit is inside us, these are the foundations of our faith, whether we see or not. What we see comes and goes, but what we know remains and is the foundation of everlasting joy and love for God.

David Robison

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

1st Peter 1 - A living hope

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3)
Peter was a Hebrew man and, in the Hebrew understanding, "living" was more than breathing. It carried the connotation of being active, of moving, of affecting other things. For example, when Isaac's men dug a well it is said that, "And Isaac's servants dig in the valley, and find there a well of living water." (Genesis 26:19 YLT) Other translations say flowing or springing waters. A living hope is more than just a wish for an old promise, it is a hope that animates our life; a hope that motivates us to action, fills our everyday with purpose and meaning, and flows out to everyone we meet. A living hope is an active hope, having power in our lives and the lives of those around us. This is the hope Jesus came to give us; not a hope based on an old law, but a hope founded on something greater, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not only the purchase price for our hope but it is also the very evidence and foundation of our hope and the very thing for which we ourselves hope for. We have this hope because He rose again, we know we will have our hope because He who rose again is able to give it to us, and we hope for a resurrection because He too rose from the dead. "knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:14)
"to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you," (1 Peter 1:4)
Paul writes of hope, "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Romans 8:24-25) While there is much to hope for in this life, everything in this life is temporal. Paul further writes, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19) Our hope extends beyond our brief existence here on this earth to include things that are eternal. One day we shall leave this earth and enjoy our eternal inheritance in heaven with God; to be forever with Him and to always enjoy His presence and His love. One day our struggle on this earth will be over and our adoption as sons and daughters complete and we shall then enjoy eternity with our Father and His son. However, sometimes, as we sojourn on this earth, heaven seems far away. Our view of heaven can become dim and the promises seem distant and uncertain, but in these times we must remember that it is not heave or its promises that have faded away, merely our perception of them. The things promised by God are sure and true and will never fail or fade away; our view of them may fade but they never fade in God's sight. No matter how distant and obscure heaven seems to be in our sight, it is always as real and as certain as the time when God first promised them. Our hope is not founded on our ability to stay connected to heaven but on God's ability to stay true to what He has promised.
"who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:5)
The word here translated as "protected" has the idea of being kept and defended, as a city would be defended by a garrison. Its the picture of troops stationed all around the city to watch for the enemy and to protect the city in case of an attack. While we have received much from the Lord, there is yet much more to be given. Paul, speaking of God, said, "who also has sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:22 Darby) An earnest is a pledge or down payment, as one would give earnest money to secure the sale of a home; a promise that the full amount would follow later. There is much more that God has in store for us, yet how shall we secure our life here on earth that we might one day receive the fullness of what God has promised? The good news is that it is not according to our own will, power, and might but according to God that we shall be protected and saved for what is yet still waiting for us. It is God Himself who shall protect and save us by His own power and might. We can rest in faith that God is in control, not ourselves. What peace this brings to our soul, to the soul who has counted God worthy of faith!

David Robison

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

1st Peter 1 - Greetings

Today I am starting a new series on the first letter of Peter. It was written to those who were scattered abroad in the dispersion of the Jews and was written for the purpose of "exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God." (1 Peter 5:12) As we share in this journey, keep an open heart as to what is the true grace of God and how we can appropriate at it and integrate it into our lives. I hope this series will be a blessing to you.
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ," (1 Peter 1:1
Peter introduces himself, not by title, but by his function in the Body of Christ. What comes before our names are typically titles, for example, it could have been written, "The Apostle Peter greets you," here mentioning Apostle as Peter's title, a reference to who is is. However, it is written, "Peter an apostle greets you," here referring to what he does not who he is; a reference to his function not his title. We have become very fond of titles today, even in the Church of God. We use titles like Pastor, Executive Pastor, Leader, Teacher, Minister, and the like. While titles are not bad in and of themselves, they tend to draw attention to ourselves rather than to the calling and ministration of God. Titles also tend to set boundaries between believes, for example, between Pastor and Flock, and can also cause the formation of classes within the brethren, for example, congregant, minister, senior minister, leader, pastor, and senior pastor, and pope. Jesus never desired that such distinctions exist among believers, that is why he said, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ." (Matthew 23:8-10) It is time in the Body of Christ that we rid ourselves of all distinctions of title and return to being simply brothers and sisters. Our focus should not be on who we are but what we are suppose to do; on our function rather than our title.
"who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood" (1 Peter 1:1-2
To be chosen is merely the beginning of our walk with God; it is our entrance into the things of the Kingdom. Jesus said, "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14) In Peter, the word "chosen" is used in reference to our election in Christ while, in Matthew, the word is used in reference to our acceptance by Christ. It is one thing to be the called and elect, but it is another to be accepted. Peter outlines our path into the Kingdom of God; a path that starts with our calling but also requires our participation with the Holy Spirit in our sanctification. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit, "when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8) We need the conviction of the Holy Spirit to identify the areas in our lives that are displeasing to God that we might be sanctified in those areas through obedience to Jesus Christ and, having been found obedient, to receive His forgiveness and the sprinkling of His blood in every area of our lives. Many are called but few find the path of sanctification, obedience, and forgiveness by which one is chosen. Many start out well but fail to remember that it is "the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Matthew 24:13) We must always remember that the Christian walk is a process, not a brief meet-and-greet.

David Robison