I Peter 4
When I graduated high-school and went to my Prom I was invited to several ‘after-prom’ parties. I knew that there would be drinking and other activities at these parties that I didn’t care to participate in. I declined several invitations and have never been sorry for that decision. What I did instead , was go with a few friends after prom to Dairy Queen and have ice cream sundaes and then back to my house where we watched a movie until the wee hours of the morning. My classmates all knew that I was a Christian and I most of all wanted to stay true to my Christian values as would be pleasing to Christ. In 1 Peter 4 the apostle Peter reminds the early Christians to stay true to their righteous values in a world that did not promote those values, amongst a people who would not understand or value their decision to behave righteously.
Our culture today is filled with sensuality (notice how little clothing some people and models wear), lust (always wanting more), and a constant appeal to the senses that drinking alcohol will make you popular, relaxed, fun to be around, etc. Now I’m not proposing that everyone go around in turtlenecks and never have a glass of wine here – But by being sensuous , lusty, or intoxicated we dishonor God and his good desires for our lives. People and friends may make fun of you for not choosing to participate in these activities but the apostle Peter reminds us in verse 5 that everyone will have to give an account before the Lord about what they chose to do, and how they conducted themselves in this life.
He goes on to encourage the early believers and us to lead lives of righteousness exercising good judgment, being diligent in prayer, loving others, being hospitable and doing what God has gifted us to do by His spirit for the encouragement and uplifting of others. In verse 11 he reminds us that God will give us the strength to do these things so that He will be glorified through our lives of righteousness.
We all one day will stand before the Lord to be judged for our actions. In the last part of the chapter we are told that we should not be found suffering for sins committed but rather that if we are found suffering it should be for the cause of following Christ in an ungodly world. We can trust God to be the righteous judge, for He is our creator and we can entrust our souls to Him.
By now we have gone a complete week since Fuel has ended. Some of us maybe have gone back to our old ways, but others may be trying to make their habits (here we go) DIFFERENT!
This week I have been reading through Mark 7! While I was reading, there were two verses that stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Mark 7:6 &7 say, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Jesus was quoting Isaiah. Jesus said this because the Pharisees saw the disciples of Jesus eating with unclean hands. It was against tradition for the Pharisees and the Jews to eat without clean hands. Jesus challenges the Pharisee’s teachings with what it really means to honor God.
Reading that first part of verse 7 stood out because it really got me thinking of myself. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” When we all leave FUEL and other church camps we all sometimes go back to our old ways and just forget what camps like FUEL are actually for – bettering our faith and love for God with the fellowship of our COG family.
We can all show our love for God freely around people we know at places like FUEL but when we come back to modern day society some of us feel like we shouldn’t/can’t show it as much. When you come back to your normal life you have to feel conviction in your heart that you’re going to continue to show God’s love even outside of FUEL. Even though some of us don’t do this, back to what Jesus said to the Pharisees, some of us might honor him with what we say but not really in our hearts. Although our hearts may be unclean, God still loves us and gives us many ways to honor him!
There is no one way to honor God. We all have unique ways to show our love. Some of us might be amazing speakers, some might be fantastic writers, and some like myself love to honor him with music. Just because we have different ways of showing our love for him, doesn’t mean we should hide it. It’s gifts from him to show that He loves us no matter what; and that we should embrace it.
Happy Labor Day. This holiday was started to give praise to the American workforce for their contributions to our country. What does the Bible say about our work for God. Obviously we know the Bible says that works can’t save someone. Paul writes in Galatians that salvation is a gift of God through Jesus. This idea that work isn’t needed has kind of permeated our Christian culture.
We can’t be Blind to what the Old and New Testament says about our relationship to God and the work that produces. In Proverbs, Solomon gives us many verses like 6:6 where we are to consider the ant and how hard they work and 31:10 where the virtuous women is praised for her work. Solomon says work is good to keep us from poverty and this is both physical and spiritual.
In the New Testament, James tells us that our faith and works are married together and can’t be separated. All of the people of faith in Hebrews were commended for what they did. So on this Labor Day maybe we honor God with some work for what he has already done. We can’t earn salvation but we can say thank you by what we do.
Monday, April 24
Do you fast? I’ve done it once, a 30 hour famine…it was rough…of course the promise of pancakes afterward helped! 😉
Zechariah Chapter 7 dives into the question, to fast or not to fast?. “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” The Israelites question whether or not they should continue to fast and grieve over the destruction of Solomon’s temple since the new temple was being built. God makes it clear that in this case fasting is essentially pointless. The Israelites chose to fast out of their own grief and sadness, they created that tradition not God. God quickly reminds them that there are more important, better ways to honor God than continuing their fasting.
The Israelites were following the tradition and rules of fasting that they created, but not really doing anything for their relationship with God. In the next couple verses God lays out some simple truths: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.” Zechariah 7:9-10
Plain and simple. These are things God desires for us to do, to be. This reminds me of when Jesus was questioned about what the greatest commandments in the Bible are. Matthew 22:37 Jesus answers, ”Jesus declares, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
How great it is to have a God that desires more from us than our earthly traditions. He is a God that wants us to love and serve him by loving and serving others. Jesus’ very message.
To Fast or Not to Fast… do you have the answer?
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/zechariah/7/9-10)
2 Chronicles 17-19
Monday, November 28
You might have noticed in your reading that 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings read like history, while 1 and 2 Chronicles seem written to teach what it means to follow God rather than simply giving the history of the people. As noted in the intro to 1 Chronicles, these books might have been written after Israel returned from exile in Babylon. Since it covers material already recorded in Samuel and Kings, it would seem evident that this author has more in mind than simple history.
Here are two things to notice in today’s readings. First, Jehoshaphat made sure that the people were taught the way of God, first by sending teachers throughout the land (2 Chron. 17:7-10), and then by teaching the people how to live when they went to court to settle disputes (19:8-11). Second is the back story behind the battle alliance between Ahab and Jehoshaphat.
Before they went into battle, Jehoshaphat wanted to inquire of the Lord. All the prophets predicted success, but when he asked for one more, with reluctance Micaiah predicted that Ahab would be killed. He went on to say that God had put a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets who curried Ahab’s favor. That certainly gives us something to think about, doesn’t it. It seems that if you want to believe the wrong thing, God will let you believe it.
So how can we know what to believe? Jehoshaphat went down the wrong road when he made alliances with a king who did not honor God. If we are trying to keep one foot in the world, we can never trust what we hear. Those who are whole-heartedly dedicated to God will not be misled.
Pastor Greg Demmitt
Saturday, October 29
Yesterday my father was able to participate in a program called The Honor Flight, they do this all over the United States. They take veterans free of charge on a flight to Washington DC and they visit the war memorials. They give them a t-shirt, hat, etc. and everything is free. Then when they come home they encourage a huge crowd to come and meet them at the airport, there were about 500 people that came to cheer them on. Many of them were family members but also people who just wanted to show their appreciation for the service these men had provided. We sang God Bless the USA and the National Anthem. There were honor guards, boy scouts, policemen, and other veterans there to show their support of these heroes. At the end they announce their names and everyone cheers for them. It was a great honor for all of the American heroes.
I was thinking as reading these chapters about how Solomon wanted to honor God by building Him a temple in Jerusalem. He spared no expense, it was huge. He had the cedar trees brought from Lebanon because they were the best. It said the whole temple was overlaid with gold. He hired craftsmen known for their work to come to the temple, they worked with bronze, gold, silver, stone masons, and carvers. They all had a part in the building of the temple, they all did what they were good at. This also parallels how it is in our churches today, in 1 Corinthians 12:12 it says “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” We can all work in our church in some way, for the good of the rest of the body. It took 7 years to build the temple. The reason King Solomon was so particular about building this house for God was that he wanted to honor Him.
Just like in the last chapter of the Bible there are some verses that have been repeated over and over as we have been reading the Old Testament, God repeats it again to King Solomon so I think it is something that we need to understand. I know when I have something important for my children’s future good, I will repeat it over and over, even if they think I am being annoying. This is important to the Israelites future and it’s also important for our future. We are all looking forward to the day that Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the Earth. It is a wonderful future that we are looking forward to and that is why God keeps telling them how to live a life that is pleasing to him. It is for our own good and for our future. I hope you are enjoying these stories and applying the lessons we are learning in our lives.