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For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.

Philippians 1:29 NIV

This is an interesting and rather unsettling verse. Paul says that it has been granted to us to believe in Christ and also to suffer for him. Few believers probably have any issue with the first half of this. That is a good and positive thing. It is the suffering part that is unsettling.

Suffering for Christ

The word “granted” in this verse means “to show favor, grant, bestow, graciously conferred.” We have been given the privilege of suffering for Christ. Now generally we don’t think of suffering as a privilege. But Paul clearly does. The question is why? Why is it a privilege to suffer?

I believe that it has to do with the suffering of Christ on my behalf. What can I give to the one who gave his all to me? I can follow his example and suffer for him.

Suffering for Christ is not pleasant. And I don’t think it is something we necessarily should go out of our way to experience. But when we do, and all who would live godly lives will suffer (2 Tim. 3:12), rather than complain about it, be proud that you have been counted worthy to suffer for him and praise God (1 Pet. 4:16). Boast with Paul (2 Cor. 11:21-33) about how God has used your weakness to further the gospel.

Present Suffering and Future Glory

In Romans 8:17-18 Paul connects our sharing in the suffering of Christ with sharing in his glory. And then he expresses that the glory to come will far outweigh the current suffering. My suffering here is somehow tied to the glory that will come later.

Could it be that the ones who are most privileged to suffer here will experience the most glory in the age to come? If that is the case, then living in a land where we can freely worship and live free from the threat of much suffering may not be as big of a blessing as we suppose it to be.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

Matthew 5:11-12 NIV

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The post The Privilege of Suffering for Christ – Philippians 1:29 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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In the previous 6 verses Peter gave instruction for interacting with an unbelieving and skeptical world. In this section he turns his attention to life in the church, as a part of the body of believers. How should we live, love, and serve in community.

The End Is Near

The end of all things is near.

1 Peter 4:7a NIV

Peter here is looking to the end of the age. To Christ’s return, our being gathered to him, and the destruction of this world. This world will not last forever, and we should not live as though it might. Rather live in expectation that life here is short.

Peter expressed this nearly 2000 years ago. Was he wrong? Christ certainly has not returned yet for us. So either Peters definition for near is different than ours, or he meant something different than we would generally understand this expression to mean.

Actually, I believe Peter meant this exactly the way it sounds. Peter, and the other New Testament authors write with the expectation of Christ’s eminent return. The same expectation that we should be living with. We do not know the time and date of his return. But we should live as if it was just around the corner.

For the Sake of Your Prayers

Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you can pray.

1 Peter 4:7b NIV

As a part of living in the expectation of Christ’s return, Peter tells us something about the attitude we should have so that we can pray. To be alert and of sober mind would refer to thinking clearly, understanding what is going on around us. Don’t get overly involved in the trivial things of this life and our culture.

In some respects this is reminiscent of Paul’s discussion of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6. Our present day struggle as believers in this world is not against other people or culture. Rather it is a spiritual conflict we are involved in. And to successfully engage in that battle we need to be alert and clear minded.

This would be especially relevant to Peter’s readers who were suffering for their faith. See beyond the obvious physical causes. See the ultimate source of the problems. And let your prayers be directed in overcoming the primary issues rather than secondary ones.

Love Each Other Deeply

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 NIV

One of the most important things we can do when living in community is to love each other deeply. Clearly Peter is not referring here to a casual relationship. He is referring to something deeper than what seems to characterizes the typical relationship between members of most churches I am familiar with.

 Love is this verse is agape. A self giving love. And he tells us to do this deeply, or earnestly. We are to care about each other intentionally and deeply. Not just with our words. But with our actions. Do others within our body know of our love because of our actions toward them?

 “Love covers a multitude of sins.” This is an interesting expression. But one that is so real. People will put up with a lot from us if they do not question our love for them. That is not an excuse to be a pill. But does emphasize the importance of love within the body. Love will tie us together beyond anything else we can do.

Offer Hospitality

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:9 NIV

This instruction does not mean the same thing to us today as it meant to Peter’s readers. When we talk about hospitality we are generally referring to making visitors comfortable and feeling welcome. And while Peter’s readers would certainly have included that, it meant much more to them.

The first century Roman world was quite different than our modern western world. Today a visitor to a city has a large variety of hotels to stay in. That was not true in Peter’s day. While there were some inns, the were few, and not always of good repute.

Visitors often looked for local families who would provide lodging and food for them during their stay. And that was true for itenerate missionaries and other traveling believers. Hospitality would involve proving these travelers with a place to stay and food to eat during their stay.

Sometimes the hospitality would be compensated for by the traveler. But not always. And that is where the issue of grumbling comes in. I might just be able to provide food for my own family. Having another mouth to feed could be a real hardship. To do so without grumbling would be a real demonstration of love.

Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10 NIV

A steward was a servant of slave who had been entrusted with the administration of his master’s affairs. Joseph, in Genesis, is an example of a steward over Potiphar’s household.

Peter tells me, as a steward of God’s Grace to use the gifts he has entrusted to me, in serving others within God’s household. Those gifts take various forms, but regardless the gift(s) you have been given, be faithful in using them to serve.

The gifts we have been given are not for our own benefit. Instead they are given to the church for the good of the whole body. As a steward of that gift, God’s grace, I must prove faithful (1 Cor. 4:2).

Speaking

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.

1 Peter 4:11a NIV

Peter does not give the longer lists of spiritual gifts that Paul does. Instead, he divides them up into two categories: speaking and serving. Speaking would refer both to teaching and proclaiming. Today we might identify any number of gifts that fall into this category. But if your gift involved teaching, proclamation or evangelism, you were speaking.

All of us who teach or preach, whether vocally or in some form of print / digital media need to be very careful about how we do so. Peter tells us that we should teach as one speaking the very words of God. Peter is not claiming divine inspiration for every teacher or preacher. Rather he is warning us that what we are speaking of is God’s word, and we need to be careful in how we handle it. Be serious about it, not taking it lightly.

As speakers of the word of God, we have a responsibility to God, whose word we are speaking, as well as to those we speak to. We should also approach that task with a measure of humility and trepidation. God will hold us responsible for how and what we speak in his name (Jam. 3:1).

Serving

If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:11b NIV

The other gift that Peter mentions is serving. Serving involves a variety of different things. But what they have in common is that they are focused on meeting the needs of others within the body. In the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus expresses a number of things that the sheep and done and the goats failed to do.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Matthew 25:35-36 NIV

While not an exhaustive list of the ways we can serve, Jesus does seem to make serving others a priority for believers. In this passage Jesus tells us that as we serve each other, we are actually serving him.

Peter tells us to serve so that God might be praised through Jesus Christ. Our service is not to draw attention to ourselves. Rather it is to point others toward God. Our service should cause others to glorify our Lord.

Doxology

To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11c NIV

Peter closes this section of his letter with a doxology of praise. Is it directed to God the Father? Or to Jesus the Son? It would appear that it is directed to God the Father based on the previous expression “in all things God may be praised.”

This is not an expectation of something that will take place. Rather it is a statement of fact. Glory and power are God’s. Forever and ever.

Call To Action

Believers face an uncertain and often dangerous struggle with the world around us. A world that does not understand who we are and why we are what we are. And as a result will often persecute believers who dare to be different. But the end is near. So hang in there. Focus and pray.

But while the world around is hostile, life within the church body should be different. Love should be the rule we live by. Demonstrating hospitality to those in need, and utilizing the grace gifts God has given to us to serve the body.

Questions
  • What does Peter mean by ‘the end is near?” Was he mistaken?
  • Why do we need to be clear minded and sober?
  • How can you show hospitality today? Especially in a world where it might be dangerous to take people into your house.
  • How has God equipped you for life within the church body?

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

Return to First Peter

The post Life in the Church: to Love and to Serve – 1 Peter 4:7-11 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? . . . For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Ezekiel 18:23, 32 NIV

I must confess that I was happy when Osama bin Laden was killed. To me, he was a very hateful person. Guilty of the deaths of countless numbers of innocent people. I believe the earth is a better place without people like him.

Repeatedly in the Scripture we find God condemning people like that. People who cause suffering to others. And it is tempting to attach human emotions to God’s judgement. But we need to careful about doing so.

This verse, as well as verse 32 below, express that God did not have the same feelings about Ben Laden’s death that I did. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Even when in his justice he punishes them, it saddens him. He would much rather see them repent and turn to him.

Every human bears the image of God within and is precious to him. And he desires to draw us all to himself. He has made it possible for all to be saved. But his justice demands that those who refuse face the consequences of that refusal.

I am not God. But I am his child. As his child I should seek to imitate him. And that should extend to grieving over those who are perishing. God takes no pleasure in their death. So neither should I.

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The post Take No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked – Ezekiel 18:23 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2-4 NIV

The 12 disciples included Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot. Two quite different perspectives and personalities. Yet Jesus called them both. There is room for diversity in the body of Christ.

Matthew was a collaborator with the Roman occupying force. He collected taxes for them. He advocated peaceful co-existence with the Romans.

Simon was a Zealot. The Zealots advocated rebellion against the hated Romans. Drive them out of the land.

One was on the extreme right of the political spectrum. The other to the extreme left. One was a pacifist. The other a protester. It would be hard to find two men who were more different.

Yet Jesus called both of these men to be his disciples. And not just a part of the crowd that followed him. But one of the 12. An inner circle who would receive a more intensive training. Who would be tasked with being the foundation of the church.

No doubt they both questioned, at least initially, the wisdom of the other’s selection. But under Jesus’ teaching they put aside their differences and labored together, shoulder to shoulder.

We all come into the body of Christ today with our differences. But rather than divide us, we should allow the teaching of Jesus to mold and shape us. To allow our diversity in the body to strengthen us rather than divide us. Focus on Jesus rather than our differences.

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The post Diversity in the Body of Christ, A Good Thing – Matthew 10:2-4 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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Words are important. We use them to communicate. But if we don’t have a common understanding of what words mean, communication will be challenging. If everyone understood words in exactly the same way, communication would be clear. But unfortunately that is not the case.

Take the simple word ‘bow’. What does it mean. Does it mean bending over toward someone, a sign of respect? Or is it a tool for shooting arrows? Or is it the pointy end of a boat or ship? Context is the key to understanding in this case.

But context does not always help. Sometimes you need to know what tribe a person is from. Are they a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, a mother, or a teenager? Each have their own meanings for some common words.

The Meaning of Theological Terms

This is true within theology as well. We might think we always mean the same thing with the words we use, and generally do. But some words have distinct meanings to different groups, or tribes, of theologians.

Take the word ‘sovereignty’ for instance. Most theologians would agree that it means God is in control. But the tribe I belong to understands God’s being in control differently that some other tribes.

We believe that a sovereign God would be able to grant some level of autonomy to created creatures without losing his sovereignty. In other words he could create people with free will without surrendering his sovereignty over them.

Other tribes believe that if God granted free will to humans that he could not be sovereign. These tribes tend toward determinism, that everything that happens is according to God’s divine plan, set down from creation.

To be clear, the two tribes mean something different by the term ‘free will’ as well. Mine means libertarian free will; the ability to have chosen other than what you did. The other tribe means compatibilist free will; choosing to freely do what you want, but not otherwise. Compatibilist free will is free will that is compatible with divine sovereignty. God works in our desires so that we want to do is what he has determined we should do.

Strife and Arguing Over Words

I am not arguing here which view is correct. Rather that our differing use of the same words causes communication problems between us. And, unfortunately, it extends beyond simple communication issues.

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 NIV

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5 Paul gives Timothy instruction concerning false teachers looking for monetary gain through their teaching. I am not accusing either side of this debate of being false teachers looking for profit. But something Paul said about them is something we need to guard against.

They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.

Resolve as Brothers, Not as Competitors

All too often our quarrels about words end in strife, malicious talk, and friction. Our words are important. And we are not both right in our understanding of them. But we should be able to discuss them in a reasonable fashion without resorting to name calling and casting doubt on salvation. Something that I have seen happen all to often.

We both serve the same God, the God who holds all truth. Let’s work together in a loving fashion to discover and hold to that truth. Let’s not fight and quarrel amongst ourselves like the false teachers Paul warns about.

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

The post Arguing About the Meaning of Words: Avoid Conflict and Strife appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Psalm 19:1-6 NIV

I spent several days last week out in the Olympic Mountains. And the opening words of this psalm were frequently in my mind and on my lips. And not just because of the skies. All of the creation revealed itself in wonder and majesty.

The overwhelming diversity of life in the Olympics is impressive. How much more the one who produced it all. And I have no doubt that at least part of the reason he made them was for my pleasure.

The skies proclaim his glory. The majestic mountains rise up and point to him. The rushing rivers and streams sing his praise. The trees, the plants, the animals, birds and insects all are a living demonstrations of God’s greatness.

The heavens declare the glory of God! Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

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The post The Heavens Declare the Glory of God – Psalms 19:1-6 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Colossians 4:12-13 NIV

We don’t know much about Epaphras. But what a legacy he leaves us as a prayer warrior. He is likely a member of the church at Colossae who was serving with Paul. Paul commends Epaphras to them, telling the church that he is always wrestling in prayer for them. Praying that they would stand fully mature and assured in the Lord.

I must confess that I am unsure just how one wrestles in prayer. But clearly it involves an earnestness and intensity. It is much more than just a passing request. I can imagine Epaphras with a prayer list for his church including everyone who is a part of the body, all of their needs, and any problems they are facing. But more than that, he is praying for the spiritual maturity of each member and the body as a whole. Specifically lifting each of them up before the throne of God.

And he is doing this constantly. It is not something that he does occasionally. It is a priority for him. Something that he is investing much time and effort into.

When Paul tells the church that Epaphras is working hard for them, I am sure that he means more than his praying. Epaphras is serving Paul on their behalf, and is working hard at it. But I am sure that his hard work does include his prayer for them. Wrestling in prayer for them goes hand in hand with working hard for them.

It seems to me that Epaphras is the very definition of a prayer warrior.

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The post Epaphras: Prayer Warrior Extraordinaire- Colossians 4:12 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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As believers we are still living in this world. And generally we are in daily contact with people who do not share our faith in Christ. Their influence is all around us. In this passage Peter tells us to not let the world’s influence lead us into sin. Rather we should stand firm against it and the pressure it brings to bear on us.

Arm Yourself

​Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

1 Peter 4:1-2 NIV

The opening phrase here looks back to 1 Peter 3:18 where “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” And since that is true, what should be our response?

Peter tells us to arm ourselves with the same attitude. To arm ourselves is reminiscent of Ephesians 6:10-17 and Paul’s discussion of spiritual warfare. To arm is a military term. Get your weapons ready for a fight.

The expression “whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” is a challenging one. One that commentators are in disagreement with. What seems most likely to me is that the one who has committed themselves to suffer for the sake of Christ, has left the world of sin behind. He is not saying that they do not sin. Only that they have turned away from that life.

And because they have turned away from that life, they no longer live for it. Their lives are not lived to satisfy their human desires. Instead they seek to live in accordance with God’s will in their lives. Living in obedience to both his word, and the Spirit’s leading. Resisting the world’s influence.

Arm yourself with the willingness to suffer like Jesus did.

Leave the Past Behind

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

1 Peter 4:3 NIV

Peter has called on us to live for the will of God rather than for our human desires. Those human desires belong in our past. And in our past we did what unbelievers do. Indulging our sinful nature. Seeking to please ourselves.

For some of us, it would be tempting to look at this list of things that Peter mentions and not recognize our past. I know that I never participated in an orgy. Although I must admit that as a teenage boy that was one of my fantasies. But I never acted out any of these things; apart from a little lust maybe.

But I do not believe that Peter would limit his meaning here to only the more degenerate activities of unbelievers. The contrast is between living to please God and living to please self. In the past I lived to please self. It is time, as a believer, to quit that life. Leave it in the past. It has no eternal value. Instead, seek to accomplish the will of God in your life.

Expect Abuse From Those Facing God’s Judgement

They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

1 Peter 4:4-5 NIV

Within a month of becoming a believer I found myself in the US Navy, going through boot camp. Overall it was a wonderful experience for me, and I am grateful for it. But it was also very challenging. I was surrounded by other young men who, like myself, were free of home and its constraints. Time to experience the world and all that it has to offer. Something that until a month prior I had every expectation of experiencing myself.

But Christ captured me. And that desire was gone. And I mean gone without a struggle. But my fellow sailors had a hard time understanding why I was not interested in doing what they did. Why I spent my free time with my nose in a Bible. I will confess that I did not get much real abuse over it. But it was confusing to them.

Peter encourages us to live for God. And expresses that the world will not understand why we do. And they may become abusive over it. But they will have to give account to God for it. For their abuse of believers. And for their refusal to turn from the ways of this world and come to him. Rather than be upset over those who ridicule us, we should pity them. They have to stand before the judge of all the earth and give account for their lives. That will not be pleasant.

Preaching To the Dead

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

1 Peter 4:6 NIV

This is another verse that is a bit challenging. The gospel was preached to those now dead. As in 1 Peter 3:19, we might ask what was preached, and who was it preached to?

The proclamation to the imprisoned spirits in 3:19 would appear to be a proclamation of victory by Christ over the forces of evil. But here it is the gospel itself that is preached. The good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

But was it preached to those who had died before Christ came? Or was it referring to those who had died after hearing the gospel? Those who would argue for the former alternative see this as referring to Old Testament saints. Those who were faithful in life before Christ came were given the gospel. A gospel they would gladly receive.

The alternative is that Peter was referring to first generation believers who had begun to die, either naturally or from persecution. Which alternative is correct is something that was likely clear to Peter’s original audience, but much less so to us today. Which is right is beyond me.

Facing Judgement

Believers seem to face the same fate as unbelievers, at least physically. Both are subject to death, bring an end to the life we know. No matter how you live your life here, the end result is the same. Death. At least from the perspective of the unbeliever.

But the end is actually quite different. On the one hand are those who will face the judgement of God. And who will face eternal destruction. On the other hand are those who will experience eternal life in the presence of God.

And that is why the gospel is preached, even to those now dead. So that, even though we face the same physical death, our final end is different. Those who receive the gospel message, and live for God in this life, will live with him through eternity. But those who reject the gospel message face God’s judgement.

Call to Action

At one time we all lived to satisfy our human desires. Whether we judged those actions as good or bad, we still lived for self. But now we are called to leave that life behind. Resist the world’s influence in every part of your life. Instead, live to please God. To fulfill his will.

If you do that, the world around you will consider you as strange. And they will likely ridicule you. You may even suffer at their hands. They do not understand you. And your life is a threat to their own way of life. The darkness hates the light, and will seek to extinguish it.

But judgement awaits. This physical life will end the same for all of us; in physical death. But the life to come will be quite different for those who have believed the message of the gospel. Eternal life awaits us. But not for unbelievers. The fate of those who scoff now, is to experience the wrath of God.

Questions
  • How do you resist the world’s influence?
  • What does it mean to be done with sin?
  • Why should you not be surprised when people around you do not understand your lifestyle? Should it be concerning to you if they accept you as one of their own?
  • Who are the dead that the gospel was preached to? Why was the gospel preached to them?

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

Return to First Peter

The post Don’t Surrender to the World’s Influence – 1 Peter 4:1-6 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:2 NIV

This psalm is subtitled as a prayer of Moses. In it he expresses the eternality of God. Forever is a hard concept to grasp. I remember as a young man trying to understand how big the universe was. And I found myself constructing a brick wall that encompassed the whole thing. I could not conceive of the universe stretching out forever.

And I have the same problem with time. As a creature living in time, time impacts nearly everything I do. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, and decades all define my existence. When I turn to the creation around me that timeframe is measured in much larger increments. Thousands, millions and billions of years. I honestly have no idea how long a billion years is. It’s just too big.

And yet, before the mountains I love sprang up, God was. Before this earth cooled and began to take shape, God was. Before the universe itself began, God was. And long after the mountains, the earth, and this universe come to an end, God still will be.

Moses said “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” When time began, he was God. When time comes to an end, he will still be God. Unchanging in nature. Unchanging in purpose. Eternal.

That is the God who made us. Who provided redemption for us. And who has called us into an eternal relationship with himself. How great is our God!

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He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 10:30 NIV

I am not particularly comfortable with acclaim, not that I have ever experienced much of it. But I must confess to taking pleasure in the positive feedback I occasionally receive. It can be discouraging to toil in obscurity for long periods of time with no recognition.

And that’s what makes John’s declaration here so meaningful to me. John had been faithfully announcing the coming of the kingdom of God. Crowds had been coming to him. And many of them had repented and been baptized.

But then the crowds started to decline. And his disciples reported that Jesus is starting to attract the crowds that had once gone to John. They were indignant.

But John was not. He knew who was greater. And it was not John. John had come to prepare the way for Jesus. It was only right that Jesus eclipse him. He must increase. That John fade into the background. That he decrease.

And what was true for John is true for me as well. Jesus is the Lord. I am his servant. My service is not to bring credit to me. It is to honor him. The more that people see Jesus in me, the better and more honoring is my service.

Personal recognition should not be my motivation for serving. I must decrease. Pointing others toward Jesus, our Lord and Savior should be my goal. He must increase.

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The post He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease – John 3:30 appeared first on A Clay Jar.

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