Wednesday, August 17, 2016, 8:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3:8-17 (ESV). Genuine Faith (Summary chapters 1:1-3:7) Peter began his letter to the saints of God with praise to God: In his great mercy, God has given us new birth into a living hope. Then, he spoke a word of encouragement to those who were suffering grief in all kinds of trials. He said that these have come that our faith, though refined by fire, might be proved genuine, so we should rejoice in our sufferings. After this he gave the charge to be holy, i.e. to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the image of Christ. He said that we, as obedient children of God, should no longer conform our lives to the evil desires we had when we lived in ignorance, but we should rid ourselves of all those evil practices. As well, he encouraged all believers in Jesus Christ that we are a chosen people and a royal priesthood, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Next he covered the subject of submission. We are to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men unless, of course, we are being asked to disobey God. Obedience to God always trumps submission to human authority. And, he spoke to the subject of how wives are to treat their husbands, and husbands their wives. Wives are to be submissive to their husbands, and they are to live pure lives before their husbands. Christian husbands, in the same way are to be considerate as they live with their wives and they are to treat them with respect, as those who are co-heirs with them in eternal life with God, so that nothing will hinder their (the husbands’) prayers. A Tender Heart (vv. 8-9) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. After all that (see summary above), Peter said, “finally,” which generally means he is bringing his thoughts to some type of a conclusion. He said we are to have unity of mind. Now, “unity” is a key “buzz” word in the institutional church, in big business, and in the government here in America, and in the world. Yet, the “unity” that they are often speaking of is unity with man-made thinking and reasoning, and with marketing schemes and philosophies for how to grow your business. What many of them are working toward is global unity of government, i.e. a one world order, and global unity of religion, i.e. a one world religion where we all “get along.” Yet, that is not the type of unity Peter is speaking of. This unity is unity of mind with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and with the Word of God and its teachings on salvation and holiness and righteousness, etc. If we are united in thought with God we should be united in thought and belief with one another. And, this unity with God in mind should thus carry over to these other areas, as well. We should have the same sympathy he has for us, and the same love he has for the people of this world. We should have the same heart he has for the brokenhearted, for the injured, the rejected, and the lost. And, we should exemplify the humility of Christ in how he left it all behind in heaven to come to earth, to take on human flesh, and to become a servant; to suffer and be tempted like we are, yet without sin, and then ultimately to take all our sin on himself, although he knew no sin, so that he could put sin to death. Jesus, when arrested falsely, and hung on a cross to die, when he had done no wrong, did not retaliate and he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to the Father who judges justly. And, we, as well, should leave the vengeance to God, and we should forgive and love our enemies. Away From Evil (vv. 10-12) For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” None of us are promised long lives on this earth, that I know of. I have seen some of the holiest people I know have their lives cut short, so living a holy life is also no guarantee of a long life. Yet, our quality of life is certainly determined, first of all by whether or not we believe in Jesus Christ, and second of all by our attitudes and actions. People who speak evil continually or who make a practice of telling lies are not walking according to the Spirit, and they are not at peace with God. They are being ruled by the flesh. Yet, we are not to be those who are ruled by the flesh, because Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This does not mean we will live in sinless perfection, but that sin should no longer have control over our lives, that we would obey its evil desires. So, if we want to experience the peace of God in our daily lives, and be filled with his joy, we need to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We need to walk in obedience to Christ and to his instructions on holy living. We must turn away from all evil and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord hears the prayers of the righteous, and he is attentive to the concerns on our hearts. I know from personal experience that there is no peace and no joy like we experience when we are walking according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, living to please our Lord in all that we do, instead of living to please our sinful flesh. Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake (vv. 13-17) Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. Yet, walking by faith, and in the Spirit, although it certainly has its rewards and blessings, is not a “cake walk” (easy task), nor is it free from trouble or hardship. When God has rulership over our lives, Satan is continually on the warpath, trying to win us back over to his ways, or trying to take us down so that we are ineffective in our testimonies for Christ. Jesus said that if we follow him that we will be hated and persecuted as he was. Yet, we are not to fear persecution or what humans may do to us, but we are to trust our lives into God’s capable hands, and keep on walking by faith, and in the Spirit. And, at all times we should live in such a way as to bring honor and glory to the name of Jesus Christ. Your Lord is With You An Original Work / August 14, 2016 Based off Various Scriptures Fear not for your Lord is with you. He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you. When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways, You must fear no evil, for God is near. Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed, For your Lord is with you throughout your days. Fear not for your Lord is with you. He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you. Trust Him with your life and witness. He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way. The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear. He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears. Do not be afraid, but to God do pray, And the peace of God will be yours today. Trust Him with your life and witness. He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way. My God, He is my Rock and my Shield And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink. My God turned my darkness into His light; Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight. My God, He is my Rock and my Shield And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.