Friday, August 31, 2007

Freiday Devotional

1 Peter 1:13-16
Scripture: 13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." (NASB)

Exposition: In the previous section, Peter was concerned with Christians having a right perspective. In the proceeding section, Peter's focus is on right living. "Therefore" connects this current section (vv. 13-25) with the previous one (vv. 3-12). Peter is basically saying, because we now have a right perspective of salvation, especially concerning hope, we are now to walk (live) in holiness, love, and reverence.
His readers are to "gird up their loins," which basically means "roll up your sleeves" in our culture, and take hold of these following attitudes as a means of Christian living. To have a sober spirit, describes a Christian who is in full control of themselves. This includes their speech, actions, and thoughts. They are not to let the lusts of the flesh (sin nature) rule their lives. Christians are to live with an unwavering hope. This hope is grounded in the return of Christ. Peter is basically saying to his readers at that time to endure the persecution with sound judgment, in full control of yourself, and in the hope of Christ's return.

As part of Christian living, we are to be obedient to God as children are (should be) to their parents, only better. Peter exhorts his readers to stay clear of their "former lusts," for that is not in accordance with obedience. It is not stated, but Peter assumes that these readers have been transformed by Christ, for he states the reversal of such an action when he says, "do not be conformed." To be conformed to their former lusts, would imply that they have already been transformed from such lusts. These "former lusts" were part of their habits before they came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, which replaces their previous ignorance.

To emphasize his call to holy living, Peter focuses on God's holiness. Holy means that something/someone is set apart from sin to God. Our behavior should reflect our standing with God. If one claims to be Christian, their behavior should reflect such a claim. In their behavior, they should strive for holiness and not sin. Peter backs up his call to holy living with Scripture when he quotes Leviticus 11:44: " YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." What other imperative does Peter need to give for his readers to live holy lives? God has blatantly stated it right there.

Application: What areas of your life are not holy? How are you still living in ignorance? Are you in control of yourself (i.e. speech, thoughts, actions)? Are you being obedient to God's call on your life? What do you need to do to live a holy life? What does God need to do for/through you so that you are able to live a holy life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are such a holy God that we will never be able to accomplish what You ask of us. And for that reason, we are grateful that You have provided a means of holiness for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Help us in our endeavors to walk according to Your desires. Help us to be obedient to Your will and not live in ignorance of Your grace. You have called us to be holy, and only by You can we be as You desire. May Your desires be the desires of our hearts as well. Grant us the strength, wisdom, and grace to live according to Your Word. In the name of Jesus, and by the Spirit we pray. Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freiday Devotional

1 Peter 1:10-12
Scripture: 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look. (NASB)

Exposition: This salvation that Peter has been discussing was prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament. These prophets prophesied that Christ would suffer and be glorified ( e.g. Isa 61:1-3). However, they were not sure how to put the suffering and glorification together. That is why many of the Jews during Jesus' time (and today) missed the mark. They expected Messiah to be glorified, but not to suffer. That was beyond their understanding. This is evident when Peter says that the prophets "made careful searches and inquiries." The prophets searched the scriptures to understand this paradox, but were unable to obtain any understanding. Only after the resurrection of Jesus is one able to comprehend the suffering and glorification of Christ, and then not completely.

Just like many Christians today try to understand the timing of Christ's return, the Old Testament prophets sought to know the timing of Messiah's arrival. Even though the prophets had the Spirit of Christ in them, which is a reference to the Holy Spirit, they still were not privy to the exact times and events, only that these things were going to happen. Take notice, too, that here we have a distinction between the Divine author and his human writers. The Holy Spirit was doing the indicating and predicting; the prophets were writing these revelations down. This is known as "inspiration." The prophets were penning what was being revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. The prophets did not fully comprehend what they were writing, and thus sought to know the "person or time" and "sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."

The prophets knew that what they were seeing and writing down was not only for them. The revelations they were receiving would be partly fulfilled in their time, but more importantly in the future. The same is for Peter; not all of the revelations had been fulfilled in his day. The suffering of Christ happend, but the glorification was not and is not complete. That is still a future event, one that we await with anticipation. We, however, are not the only ones awaiting the fulfillment of revelation, for we are joined by angels. They, too, are mystified by the grace of God and are waiting to see how it all plays out in the end.

Application: The grace of God is a deep mystery. The prophets of old prophesied about it, yet did not understand it. The angels, who have direct access to God, are completely mystified by His grace. How much more should we be in awe? Let us search the Scriptures to gain a better understanding of grace, but more importantly a deeper love for the One who provides that grace. Let us praise God for his grace. Let us join with the angels declaring: "Holy, holy, holy, is The Lord God, the Almighty, Who Was and Who Is and Who Is To Come" (Rev 4:8).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are abounding with grace. We don't always understand grace, but are thankful that You grant it to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. May You help us in understanding Your revelations, not that we may predict upcoming events, but so that we may fall ever more in love with You. You inspired men of old to write down Your word, and we thank you that we are able to access Your word still today. May You continue to lift us up in order that we may praise, glorify, and honor You. In the name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit we pray. Amen.

The Plunge

Well, I am no longer a "husband-to-be," but am now just a husband. Yep, Amy and I were married on August 12th, at 2:00pm. It was a great ceremony with family and friends there to witness the union. Our pastor did a great job leading the ceremony, and the Cappella Court staff did a great job setting things up and serving. We could not have asked for a better place to have the wedding and people to attend the service.

For the honeymoon, Amy and I headed south of the border to Rivieria Maya. It is just south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula. The weather was great. It rained almost every day, but just for a couple of minutes and then the sky would clear. The resort was great. We stayed at the Secrets Capri all-inclusive resort. I found the all-inclusive resort to be a great way to vacation. I would totally recommend the resort and the Rivieria Maya to anyone looking to do a vacation.

We did get away from the resort for a little while. We took an excursion to Chichen Itza (above picture), which is one of the several Mayan ruins that you can visit. It was a scorching hot day with little wind, but the ruins were well worth the heat and the 2.5 hour drive from the resort. After walking around the ruins with our guide, as part of our tour package, we were able to take a dip in an underground spring. The water was refreshing after a hot afternoon, but it did take some getting used to --it was cold!
All in all, it was a great vacation. We could have stayed longer, but alas, duty calls and we had to come back to Dallas. Now, we are just looking forward to getting the apartment in order, which has been a grueling endeavor. But, we'll manage to find a place for everything. We're looking forward to a lifetime together. And I could not have asked for a better wife than Amy. :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Freiday Devotional

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 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, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 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; 8 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, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (NASB)

Exposition: "Blessed" can also be understood as "praise" to our God and Father. It is right for us to praise God, for as Peter illuminates, it is by His mercy that we have been born again. Our rebirth comes with a certain hope that is only made possible by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15, our faith is futile if Christ was not raised from the dead. In a similar way, our hope is in vain if Christ was not raised from the dead.

God's great mercy has not only given us hope and rebirth, but also an inheritance. Just like the Jews of the Old Testament waited on the Lord to fulfill their inheritance of the Promised Land, we Christians are awaiting our inheritance, namely Christ himself. But unlike the Promised Land, which is subject to loss and decay, our inheritance is "imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away." This is because our inheritance is not subject to the atrocities of this world, but is stored safely in the realms of heaven.
Peter tells us, not only is our inheritance protected but we Christians are as well, by God's power. It is our initial faith that grants us salvation and eventually an inheritance. It is God's power that keeps us saved, not our own. In essence, it is through His faithfulness that we can have assurance of salvation, not our faithfulness. For, we know how unfaithful we can be, but this has no effect on God's faithfulness towards us. Our salvation that is "revealed in the last time" refers to our glorification. This is the finalization of our salvation. We will be glorified at our death or the Rapture, which ever comes first.

Before this glorification can take place, we will go through many trials. This is nothing new, just the truth of the matter. We live in a world that is plagued by sin, hardship, and evil. And as such, we will endure such things until Christ returns. However, inspite of such trials we are able to rejoice, for we know that our salvation is in Christ and not of this world. We rejoice for our inheritance is sercured in heaven. We rejoice for we know the future will be a bright place, beyond the darkness of this world. Persecution may/will come and Peter encourages us to remember the hope that he has just talked about.

These trials that Peter is concerned with are means of testing our faith. The testing is a means of purification. Just like fire purifies gold, so trials purify our faith. The trials display the measure of faith and where it truly lies. Peter goes on to illustrate that our faith is more important than gold, for it (faith) leads to eternal life. Our faith is proved genuine when we are able to give praise, glory, and honor to God, and especially when Christ returns.

We are able to rejoice because we have hope, faith, and love. However, our rejoicing will be magnified when we come into the presence of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Through these trials, along with faith, hope, and love, we will obtain salvation. The term for "souls" literally refers to the whole person, not just the spiritual aspect. Peter tells us that at the end of the trials our salvation will be complete; that our faith will be purified; and the whole person will be glorified. All of this accomplished through the grace of God as stated in v. 3.

Application: In what specific ways has God been merciful to you recently? How have you thanked God for his mercies? What are you holding on to in this life that you can't take with you when you die? Or what perishable items have taken the place of God in your life? Do you praise God when you're facing a trial, temptation, or persecution? In what ways can you express joy through your trials?

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, your mercies are great and wonderful. We thank you for your provision and protection in our lives. Without you evil would run wild through the world, but you have restrained it for a little while, and have placed your children under your protection. Although, we may not always understand the trials in our lives, we have faith that you will see us through. And we will praise your Name forever. For our inheritance is with you and not of this world. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is in His name and by the Spirit we pray. Amen.