not your flannel graph picture

1 peter 1:17-19  “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

the reality of the jewish sacrificial system was bloody and graphic.  if the only picture we see in our minds of sacrifice is the sunday school flannel graph version, then we sorely miss a depth of understanding about the sacrifice Christ made for us.  sacrifice was messy and gruesome and rancid, but it was sanctifying.

hebrews 9:13-14 “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a geiger, sanctify for purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Jesus was the sacrifice that redeems us.  he shed his blood and died a gruesome death that we might live!  that we might be ransomed from the debt of our sin and joined with God who we can call Father.

we do well to remember the sacrifice of the old covenant; it sobers us, it helps us understand the depth of love the Father has for us, it reminds us of the magnitude of the redemptive plan of God, it invokes reverence.

the lenten season began this week, whether you choose to recognize the season of lent in your home or not; let us begin to meditate on the truth of sacrifice that was made for us.

more info and questions:

read leviticus 16 for more understanding concerning jewish sacrifice.

what does sacrifice mean to you?

take time this week to praise the Lord for his great love for you and the ransom that He paid!

“how deep the Father’s love for us”  (this may be a great song to help you offer Him praise)

fluffy clouds

1 peter 1:13-16  “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

obedient children—-ahhh the joy of all mothers is to have an obedient child.  a child who jumps up with a smile to take out the trash when you ask.  a child who quickly cleans his room upon request.  one who shares without complaint.  or shocker— a child who clears his place without even being asked.  an obedient child makes for a pleasant day.  i walk through life on fluffy clouds when my children obey.

if an obedient child can make for one happy mommy; how does an obedient child of God affect the Father?

in our house we have a little saying (i can’t remember where it came from, but i know it did not originate with me)  when mommy is giving you instruction you:  1. stop what you are doing  2. look at mommy   3. listen to mommy  4. obey as unto God.  that’s preparing for action.  you stop doing your own thing and focus your attention on the task at hand.  it seems simple with my children.  so why don’t i do it with the Lord?  why am i like the child who keeps on playing soccer when his mom has called him in for dinner three times already?  why don’t i stop what i’m doing, stop seeking out my own plans, stop making myself busy with the things of this world?  and start looking to the Lord and listening to Him- setting my hope on His grace.

why do i throw adult-size temper tantrums when God tells me to get the trash out of my heart?  why do i pout when i have to clean up my words?  why do i bulk when God says give?

i know the joy of having an obedient child; i want to give that joy to the Lord.

so this week i’m gonna work on obeying- and maybe we can all have a fluffy cloud kind of day.

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more infö and questions:

what area of your life do you need to yield in obedience?

we are to be holy because He is holy; what does it mean that God is holy?  (look up the definition of holy)

how can we be holy?  leviticus 19:1-4 colossians 1:21-23

the whole story

1peter 1:10-12  “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

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snow has been plaguing the east coast and other parts of the country.  atlanta was totally shut down, and kids all over have been out of school for days and days.  the weather is so unpredictable.  i don’t care how many meteorologists study temperatures and currents and systems; or how accurate doppler radar is.  no one can accurately predict the weather.  how many times have you watched the weekly forecast to plan for a trip and packed flip-flops and sundresses when you really needed jeans and hoodies?  i have little faith in my nbc weatherman.

predictions are tricky, but God spoke to prophets long ago and gave them sure fire predictions about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  i don’t claim to be an expert on prophecy, but here’s what i got from these verses this week.  God spoke to the hearts of men and women, they proclaimed the truth about what would come, and it came to pass just as the prophets said.  it’s the truth that speaks to my mind that is hungry for answers, that longs to understand the gritty details of my salvation, that seeks to stand on solid facts.

isaiah 7:14 ” Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

micah 5:2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathath, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…”

zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout aloud, O Daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

the old testament is full of prophecies of the coming Christ.  and i love to read them; to be reminded that God knew the whole story from the very beginning.  a sudden storm didn’t come and catch Him off guard.  He planned out our salvation from the beginning.  these are the things that i take comfort in; that i attempt to wrap my head around.  prophecy and predictions for me are not the stuff of theological arguments; but the stuff that points me to Jesus.  all the Book, all the world, everything that has breath whispering the name of the one who came to save me and you.

God is not a weatherman, watching the ebb and flow of tides and seasons on which to base His decisions about mankind.  no, He’s got the whole plan laid out; and i can count on Him when i’m packing.

more info and questions:

from a sermon by John Piper:

But I think it might strengthen our faith even more if we go to an Old Testament prophecy and see the truth of Christ’s resurrection and, even there 700 years before the event, its connection to the sacrifice of Christ. Even Isaiah (53:10–12) saw that the resurrection of the Servant of the Lord would be the reward of his suffering, and the proof that his suffering was sufficient to justify his people. Notice the crucial connections as I read

The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if [note this “if”] He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days [that’s the resurrection!—”if” he gives himself as an offering], and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of [notice again the connection] the anguish of His soul, He will see it [its fruit] and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore [i.e., because he justified many by bearing their iniquities] I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong [this is the reward of resurrection], because [here it is one last time, “because”] He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

So already 700 years before the death and resurrection of Christ Isaiah saw them and the connection he saw was that the resurrection of Christ was the reward of his sacrifice and the validation of his suffering to cover sin.

  • If he would render himself as a guilt offering, THEN he will see his offspring, he will prolong his days.
  • As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will be satisfied (with its fruit in resurrection).
  • Because he bears the sins of many, THEREFORE God will allot him a portion with the great.
  • He will divide the booty with the strong BECAUSE he poured out his life to death.

alistair begg on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and it’s importance in fulfilling old testament prophecy

-how much do you know about Jesus fulfillment of over 300 old testament prophecies?  are they a comfort to you or a source of confusion?

the real life

i peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.  Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

peter reminds the believers that they are living the real christian life: loving God, believing in Him, and finding joy in Him- thus receiving salvation.  these three things seem simple; these three elements of our christian life, but we often forget.  well let me not categorize all believers with me.

maybe you never focus on ministry, on doing things for God and forget about just loving, believing and finding joy in Him.  maybe you never get caught up in the things of life here on earth: parenting, churching, working, attending all manner of children’s sports events, recitals, school activities, baking cookies for every event known to school, church and community…maybe you never get lost in defeat, frustration, loneliness.

perhaps you consistently keep your eyes on Jesus; perhaps you are not like peter who sank below the waves of doubt, fear, and distrust.  i shouldn’t put us all in the same boat; because we all have a different life going.  but i as for me, i sometimes forget; i sometimes get busy; i may lose sight of the reality of my life which could be summed up in these: love Jesus, believe Him, find my joy in Him.  and as for peter, who knew the heavy weight of forgetting, denying, and losing sight of his love for Christ, his belief, and his joy.  i need this reminder.  we need this stake in our christianity, this stone pillar in the desert, a simple admonition.

love, believe, joy- a faith that produces salvation.

more info and questions:

what do you know about the invisible God?  (1peter1:8)  john 20:29, deuteronomy 4:39, psalm 8, micah 7:18

can you make a list of His attributes and characteristics that will spur you on to love, believe, and find even more joy?

colossians 1:15

dwell on the life you have in Christ this week; and who He is that we might love Him, believe Him, and find our inexpressible joy in Him!

song link- god of the ages

trials, loss and how do you consider it joy?

1peter1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trial, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

when i was baptized at age 10 our pastor asked if i had a favorite verse to share.  james 1:2 was my choice.  at 10 years old- james 1:2 ” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  as if at 10 i had any concept of trials.  well in my child mind i suppose that i considered moving often, changing schools, fighting with sisters, making new friends… trials.  now i chuckle at the thought in my little mind to voice this verse as a favorite; especially now that i understand what the cost of joy might be.

we are urged, commanded, encouraged, beckoned to seek joy throughout scripture.  in matthew 5:12 Jesus says “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

romans 5:3-4 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

psalm 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

joy, joy, joy.  it sounds great, but the trials.  they come in all shapes and sizes (10 years old or 30 something) they come.  when they do we don’t feel very joyful.  we don’t often feel like rejoicing.

i am reeling in the recent news that an old friend has cancer.  a 35 year old friend with 2 little boys and a precious wife.  this is a first for me- never anyone so known, never anyone so close in age.  i have watched friends suffer through their children’s cancer, other friends whose parents have battled and lost.  but this is different; this impact is sharper.  i want to run; i want to bring soup, and watch kiddos, and sit with my friend; i want to weep.  the first thought in my mind is not to rejoice.

how do i encourage joy, how do i help them rejoice?  and i am wondering how they find joy?  where is their cause for rejoicing? …  it is in the hope that they have because of the unending, always faithful, enduring love of Christ.  it is in a life lived for Him.  it is in friends who bear up with them and shoulder their burdens. it is in considering this trial to be for His glory.  and i must rejoice with them.  because my God is great and He is worthy of my joy.

philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”

tohimbegloryforblog

 

 

more info and questions:

we are given 2 reasons to be joyful: the hope of a great future (from verses 3-5), and God’s purpose for our struggles (vss 6-7).

do you have a hope for the future?  what are you putting your hope in?  really in your day to day life; how are you finding joy?  what makes you rejoice?

pay attention this week to the blessings God gives you.  may they be through valleys or mountaintops; look for His design in all circumstances and bask in the joy that comes only through Him.

 

 

hope

1peter1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

i’m gonna be honest.  i haven’t poured time into 1peter this week.  i’m tired and worn and feeling like a slacker, because the christmas tree is still up and the bathrooms need to be cleaned, my sister is coming to visit next week and you can barely enter our guest room for all the stuff shoved in there, and i am completely unmotivated.  (and apparently i’m trying to match peter for longest sentence ever)  so i will not attempt fancy words and fake research to make you think i’m all studied up and ready to give you great insight into this passage.  here’s what i have to say:  the believers (that peter is writing too) needed encouragement; i need encouragement!

dr. piper said in a sermon about 1peter:   

       He (Peter) begins the main body of his letter: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to his great mercy has begotten us anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:3). The power with which Peter aims to equip these beleaguered saints is the power of hope. If they, or we, are going to love like Jesus loved, even in times of great stress and worry, then they must be filled with “living hope.”  (John Piper)

thank you dr. piper for once again saying it better than i can.  i need “living hope”; i am no different than the believers who have gone before me; i need to be reminded of the great salvation God has given due to His mercy, and grace, and sovereignty.  i need “living hope” to offer to friends battling illness, and parents grieving the death of a child.  the “living hope” that pulls me out of the drudgery of hurt, that motivates me to more than monotony, that breathes love into my days is all i have to offer.

bless the Lord oh my soul.  You have given me hope.

more info and questions:

are you in a low place this week?  spend some time dwelling on the “living hope”.

be reminded of the truth of these verses: salvation through Christ- an inheritance, imperishable, undefiled, unfading, God’s power guards you, you have a place kept for you…

read a psalm to give you some perspective.  (psalm 18, 37, or 77)

3 things and a blessing

1peter1:2 “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

in my mind as i thought about this post i planned to focus on the three things peter has listed here in verse two, but now i’m thinking we are gonna take a divergent track.  i was recently talking to a dear friend about this; how so often when we prepare to speak or teach or write God takes us in a totally different direction than what we originally planned.  i am thankful for friends who help me find freedom in these things, and i’m thankful that God keeps me flexible.  so on to my thoughts on this second verse of 1peter1…

there are definitely three attributes of the “elect exiles” that peter uses to bolster the description of these believers.  they are: “sanctified of the Spirit”- that is at the point of salvation and continually as they grow in Christ.  they are: to be obedient to Christ- constantly pursuing the goal of obedience.  they are: sprinkled with Jesus blood- that is ransomed from the wages of sin through Christ’s single sacrifice.  i could further elaborate on these verses and take you all over the Bible to expound on them; but today i’m hung up on the last little phrase of this verse.

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you”  this phrase brings so much hope to me today.  maybe it’s because i’m not feeling very gracious or peaceful; maybe it’s that word multiplied.  i always enjoyed math in school, as scattered and imaginative and creative as my mind is, i also like logic; and math was one of my strong subjects.  but i’m a little quirky in that too; i like multiplication and addition over subtraction and division, even numbers over odd (except 5’s i like 5’s- 7 blah)  i will not begin to try to explain all of my number preferences to you, but multiplication.  the system for more.  the means by which we quickly attain a greater value.  peter doesn’t say let grace and peace be added to you… addition is slow and small; it doesn’t produce so great an end, but multiplication now that’s working.  that’s so much more!  10+10= 20 but 10×10= 100 yay, multiplication!  (i’ll take chocolate multiplied any day.)

multiplied- it also presupposes that there was some measure of grace and peace to begin with.  you can add something to nothing.  0+2=2  but 0x2=0 multiplication needs a place to start.  so in my logical thinking: these believers are exercising an evident, measurable grace and peace; and peter hopes for more and more.

i know i am given grace and peace by Christ, but i also know that it’s not always evident in my life.  when my aging dog eats my sons snow mitten, when i can’t find the right sweater to wear, when my boys are all wildly displaying their boyness in the living room… i do not show a measurable evidence of grace.  when my thoughts are wrecked by what to feed this herd, when i see the faces of unloved orphans, when i’m too busy… i do not show measurable evidence of peace.

so today this verse speaks to my heart, to the depth of my everyday struggles and whispers… grace is there, peace is there.  it has been given to you by the One who made you and the One who redeemed you.  let it show; let it multiply let it be more.  

more infö and questions:

reference romans 8:29-30 for more information on foreknowledge and election as well as romans 9.

the sprinkling of Christ’s blood references the old covenant from exodus 24:3-8 when animals blood was shed for forgiveness.  but Jesus has fulfilled the old covenant and shed His blood once for all sins.  (check out Hebrews- the whole book )

is grace evident in your life? (2corinthians 12:9)

is peace evident in your life? (colossians 3:12-17)

exiles

exile- the state or period of forced absence from one’s own country or home; or a voluntary absence from one’s country or home

1peter1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”

i spent the first two weeks of december in the town i called home for the majority of my life; everything familiar- people, roads, mexican restaurants, trees, weather, target…  i didn’t have to gps to find my way; i basked in the comforts of all things known and easy.  i can’t claim to know what it is to be forced into exile; to be unwillingly torn from my home.  but i know something of living in the unknown, of leaving the place i called home, of learning all things new.  it can be unnerving to live in an unfamiliar place; to be learning ways, and places, and faces.  the believers addressed here in 1 peter were not actual physical exiles; they had not been displaced from their homes; forced to live in a new land.  no, they, like all believers were spiritual exiles; roaming an earth that was not their true home, learning how to live a new way.  so peter begins his letter with encouragement in two simple words he reminds them who they are.  “elect exiles”  favored, selected, preferred exiles.  they were especially chosen to be set apart- a people to God’s own possession (titus 2:14).  peter speaks to their struggles in this address- i know this is hard for you, this living in the world and longing for a different kingdom; but be encouraged because you were called out by God.  i do well to remember this in regards to my salvation, but also in my current circumstance.  i know that God has called our family to this place for a purpose.  i am reminded that neither steamboat springs, colorado nor powhatan, virginia are my true home.  that i am a favored citizen of a different kingdom, and i should live as such.

i have a home in heaven my father waits for me

he longs to have me by His side

so my eyes can see

the glory of His presence, the place He has prepared

so i will strive each day til then to see His message shared

land of the free by andrew peterson

more info and questions:

peter clearly identifies himself at the outset of this book as the author.  he writes to believers living in pontus, galatia, cappadocia, asia, and bithynia (modern day turkey) to encourage them in their faith and instruct them in righteousness.  he most likely wrote the letter while in rome.  do you wisely choose your words to edify others?  can you think of a person near or far who could use some encouraging words from you?

think of what you know of peter’s history why do you think peter reminds his readers of their election?   (Mark 14-16)

so basically this is what these Bible studies are going to look like.  just a few thoughts on a few verses.  hopefully a springboard to get you thinking and digging into God’s word.