1640.) 1 Peter 5

August 14, 2015

“The Apostle Peter Kneeling” by Rembrandt, 1631

1 Peter 5 (New Living Translation)

Advice for Elders and Young Men

1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”

1Pet5 Jesus-washing-feet-

John 13:1-5 (NIV)

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

“If you are willing to be nothing God will make something of you. The way to the top of the ladder is to begin at the lowest round. In fact in the church of God, the way up is to go down; but he that is ambitious to be at the top will find himself before long at the bottom.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.     –1 Peter 5:7

The Christians Peter addressed were facing persecution.  They did not know whom they could trust; a friend, a neighbor, or even a family member could betray them, resulting in suffering and even death.  But Peter had walked with the risen Christ, and he had personally experienced the love that Jesus had for His followers.  He knew that Christ was in control, capable of handling every trial and that He wanted to do so as an expression of His love.

Casting our cares is a choice.  It means consciously handing over our anxiety to Christ and allowing Him to carry the weight of our problems.  At times this is the most difficult part of trusting God!  We don’t like turning over the responsibility of our problems.  We have been taught that self-reliance is good and praiseworthy.  We may even enjoy worrying.  Yet if we are to be freed from the burden of our concerns, we must choose to cast them into the strong hands of our Father.

Peter does not distinguish between little cares and big cares.  God does not differentiate between problems we should handle on our own and God-sized needs.  He asks us to turn them all over to Him.  He stands prepared to take your load and to carry it for you.  Will you let Him?

Psalm 37:5 (ESV)

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

5. roaring-lion

quotes from The Screwtape Letters,
by C. S. Lewis

(in which an older demon, Screwtape, instructs a younger one, Wormwood, about how to be successful in luring and keeping people away from God, whom he calls the Enemy)

“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

__________________________

Music:

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Peter says God will “place you on a firm foundation.”  Organist Diane Bish and the Chancel Choir of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church perform this stirring arrangement of  “How Firm a Foundation” by Bish.  Click  HERE  to be inspired!

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

–London pastor John Rippon, 1787

__________________________

Peter’s Final Greetings

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

13 Your sister church here in Babylon sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark.

This verse connects Mark with Peter, apparently the same Mark of Acts 12:12, 12:25, and 15:37-39. When the style and perspective of the Gospel of Mark are taken into account, many believe that Peter was Mark’s primary source of information for his gospel.

–David Guzik

14 Greet each other with Christian love.

Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.

5. Peter_Signature

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Rembrandt_st._peter_in_prision.jpg
Jesus washing feet.    https://mattsbibleblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/jesus-washing-feet-03.jpg
cartoon.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8E54dOHsMTw/RyLGPeHJjqI/AAAAAAAAANY/DbiLe6KxRj4/s1600-h/Carry+your+books+%282%29.bmp
roaring lion.  http://reallyrobins.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/roaring-lion.jpg
Peter signature.  http://www.e-mailmarketing.com.au/profitune/Peter_Signature.gif
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1639.) 1 Peter 4

August 13, 2015

Saint Peter, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1618.

1 Peter 4 (New Living Translation)

Living for God

1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

Peter gave us two time references that are helpful in having the right attitude in our following of Jesus Christ.

First, no longer should we live in sin (chasing our own desires), and we should answer every temptation and sinful impulse with the reply, “no longer.” Second, we should carefully consider how to live the rest of our time. God has appointed us some further days on this earth; when each of us must answer to Him how we live this time (being anxious to do the will of God).

–David Guzik

3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. 6 That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1Pet4 pray-without-ceasing

8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

4. graphics-love-n-hearts

Proverbs 10:12 (NASB)

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

My mother often quoted a proverb which expresses the other side of this coin:

“Faults are thick where love is thin.”

9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

4. hospitality

Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Suffering for Being a Christian

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

Peter once told Jesus to avoid the suffering of the cross (Mark 8:32-33). “Once it seemed strange to the Apostle Peter that his Master should think of suffering. Now he thinks it strange that He could have imagined anything else.” (Meyer)

–David Guzik

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

PARTAKERS OF HIS SUFFERINGS

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oh, I can’t deal with that person. Why not? God gave you ample opportunity to soak before Him on that line, and you barged off because it seemed stupid to spend time in that way.

The sufferings of Christ are not those of ordinary men. He suffered “according to the will of God,” not from the point of view we suffer from as individuals. It is only when we are related to Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. It is part of Christian culture to know what God’s aim is. In the history of the Christian Church the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; men have sought to procure the carrying out of God’s order by a short cut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering, the way of the “long, long trail.”

Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp our personal ambitions right out? Are we prepared for God to destroy by transfiguration our individual determinations? It will not mean that we know exactly why God is taking us that way, that would make us spiritual prigs. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly; then we come to a luminous place, and say – ”Why, God has girded me, though I did not know it!”

Acts 5:40-42 (NCV)

The Sanhedrin called the apostles in, beat them, and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus again. Then they let them go free. The apostles left the meeting full of joy because they were given the honor of suffering disgrace for Jesus. Every day in the Temple and in people’s homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News—that Jesus is the Christ.

4. congrat promo

“If every call to Christ and His righteousness is a call to suffering, the converse is equally true–every call to suffering is a call to Christ, a promotion, an invitation to come up higher.”

–Charles Brent (1862-1929)

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,

“If the righteous are barely saved,
what will happen to godless sinners?”

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

_________________________

Music:

All this suffering — and for what?  Ah, believer, look what awaits you!  HERE  is “Den Store Hvide Flok” sung in Norwegian (as it was at my mother’s funeral).  Words in English below. I love this hymn.

Who is this host arrayed in white
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
That stands with palms and sings its psalms
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints who kept God’s Word;
They are the honored of the Lord.
He is their prince who drowned their sins
So they were cleansed, restored.
They now serve God both day and night;
They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring when they all sing
With angels shining bright.

On earth their work was not thought wise,
But see them now in heaven’s eyes;
Before God’s throne of precious stone
They shout their vict’ry cries.
On earth they wept through bitter years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife to heavenly life,
And freed them from their fears.
For now they have the best at last;
They keep their sweet eternal feast,
At God’s right hand our Lord commands;
He is both host and guest.

O blessed saints, now take your rest;
A thousand times shall you be blest
For keeping faith firm unto death
And scorning worldly trust.
For now you live at home with God
And harvest seeds once cast abroad
In tears and sigh.  See with new eyes
The pattern in the seed.
The myriad angels raise their song.
O, saints, sing with that happy throng;
Lift up one voice; let heav’n rejoice
In our Redeemer’s song!

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Rubens.   http://www.artbible.info/images/rubens_apostel_petrus_grt.jpg
Pray without ceasing.   https://theologigal.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/bible-verses-on-prayer-pray-without-ceasing-1-thessalonians-5-172.jpg
love.  http://dragonartz.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/graphics-love-n-hearts-preview2-by-dragonart.png?w=495&h=277
hospitality.   https://debdebbarak.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/hospitality.gif
Why does God allow suffering?    http://static.lulu.com/browse/product_thumbnail.php?productId=12304281&resolution=320
congratulations.    http://rlv.zcache.com/congratulations_on_your_promotion_card-p137791112957664762b21fb_400.jpg

1638.) 1 Peter 3

August 12, 2015

bronze statue of St. Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio, circa 1300 (St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome)

1 Peter 3 (New Living Translation)

Wives

“Those graceful acts, those thousand decencies, that daily flow from all her words and actions, mixed with love and sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned union of mind, or in us both one soul.” 

–John Milton

1 In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.

Proper submission in the home follows the same principles of submission as towards government or our employers. It is submission not only of the actions, but also of the heart, as demonstrated by the surrendering heart of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25).

The call for submission is not merely a call for love and considerate action. It is a call to take the place of submission to authority. The ancient Greek word translated submission was used outside the New Testament to describe the submission and obedience of soldiers in an army to those of superior rank. It literally means, “to order under.”

Yet submission to authority can be totally consistent with equality in importance, dignity, and honor. Jesus was subject to both His parents and to God the Father but was not lower than either of them. “Thus the command to wives to be subject to their husbands should never be taken to imply inferior personhood or spirituality, or lesser importance.” (Grudem)

Of course, submission in marriage follows the same principles as submission in other spheres. We submit to God’s appointed authority as our obligation before God, unless that authority directs us to sin. In that case it is right to obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19-20).

–David Guzik

3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 6 For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

Proverbs 12:4 (NLT)

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband,
but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones.

Husbands

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

If you want your prayers to be helped and not hindered you have to live with your wife in a certain way. There has to be an effort to understand her so as to know her needs. There has to be a special solicitousness of her weaknesses and what she especially needs from you. There has to be a recognition that she is a fellow heir of the grace of life and an accompanying bestowal of honor rather than any belittling or demeaning. When we husbands live like this (with understanding, tender care, and honor), our prayers will not be hindered. If we do not live like this, our prayers will be hindered.

Here’s the way one good commentary put it:

So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife “in an understanding way, bestowing honor” on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight. (Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, p. 146.)

–John Piper

Proverbs 18:22 (NLT)

The man who finds a wife finds a treasure,
and he receives favor from the Lord.

“You can never be happily married to another until you get a divorce from yourself.  Successful marriage demands a certain death to self.”  –Jerry McCant

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.”  –Andre Maurois

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”  –Winston Churchill

There is one phase of life that I have
Never heard discussed in any seminar,
And that is — all women think that men
Are funny and all men think that weminar.
–Ogden Nash

All Christians

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

1Pet3 may the mind10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Suffering for Doing Good

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?

Proverbs 16:7 (ESV)

When a man’s ways please the LORD,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

“Crucified Christ” by T. J. Walsh

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

No longer will any sacrifice or atonement please God other than what Jesus provided at the cross. Even our own suffering won’t pay for our sins. The price has already been paid.

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

from the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in Jesus Christ . . .
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father . . .

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Charles Wesley’s majestic hymn, “Rejoice, the Lord Is King!”  Note verse 3:  “The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given.” And verse 4:  “He sits at God’s right hand.”

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Cambio.  http://lydiapham.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/img_05061.jpg
good wife.    http://helloladies.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/good_wife.jpg
wedding bands.    http://jcarolljewelers.com/portals/0/WEDDING%20BANDS.png
May the mind of Christ.    http://image.slidesharecdn.com/worship-nov182012-131003122215-phpapp01/95/worship-nov-18-2012-49-638.jpg?cb=1380803080
Walsh.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/3-crucified_christ_color.jpg?w=450

1637.) 1 Peter 2

August 11, 2015

“Bust of St. Peter” by French sculptor Nicolas Cordier, 1565-1612 (San Sebastiano fuori le mura, Rome)

1 Peter 2 (NLT)

1 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Psalm 34:8  (NRSV)

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.

_________________________

Music:

HERE — oh, my! This takes me back!  Petra and “Taste and See,” 1967.  Words and music by Bob Hartman.  Petra was a the first Christian band to be inducted into the Hard Rock Cafe.

If all you got is a fancy car
And a precious diamond ring
When you stand before the Lord
Will it really mean a thing?

You’ve got to see how good your life can be
You’ve got to feel what’s really, really real
How can you know until you taste and see
How good it is to be set free?

Taste and see that the Lord is good
He’s got milk and honey for you
Come and dine at the Master’s table,
He’ll serve bread and wine to you

Well you tasted this and you tasted that
But you still ain’t satisfied
You’ll never find any peace of mind
In those empty things you tried

Don’t be afraid of tasting something new
Your soul is hungry, nothing else will do
The bread of life will keep you satisfied
You won’t go hungry or ever be denied

You’ve got to make up your mind
And leave your old life behind you
You know He’ll take it away

_________________________

Living Stones for God’s House

4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

from the hymn “Built on a Rock”
by Nikolai F. S. Grundvig (1783-1872)

We are God’s house of living stones,
Built for his own habitation;
He fills our hearts, his humble thrones,
Granting us life and salvation.
Were two or three to seek his face,
He in their midst would show his grace,
Blessings upon them bestowing.

6 As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”

7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.”


Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Psalm 118, the stumbling stone of Isaiah 8, the foundation stone of Isaiah 28, the supernatural stone of Daniel 2, and the rock that miraculously gave Israel water in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4).

8 And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Respecting People in Authority

2. authority

Romans 13:1 (ESV)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.

18 You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

“Seeing the Light” by Osnat Tzadok

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin.  Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.  There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross:  He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God.  He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.

22 He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.

_________________________

Music:

Or perhaps you prefer something more peaceful than Petra!  HERE is a beautiful Celtic rendition of “The Lord’s My Shepherd.”

2. Shepherd - Simon Dewey

Psalm 23 (The Message)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Cordier.  http://www.wga.hu/art/c/cordier/st_peter.jpg
ice cream cone.  http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/PTGPOD/426583~Ice-Cream-Cone-with-Many-Colored-Scoops-Posters.jpg
cross and cornerstone.    http://bibleseo.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/cornerstone.jpg
cornerstone.    http://copiosa.org/images/cornerstone.jpg
authority.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/authority.jpg
Osnat.    http://www.osnatfineart.com/art/abstract-paintings/5793-Seeing-the-Light.jsp
The Lord is My Shepherd by Simon Dewey.   http://ldsbookstore.com/Shared/Images/Product/The-Lord-Is-My-Shepherd-Print/the-lord-is-my-shepherd-simon-dewey.jpg

1636.) 1 Peter 1

August 10, 2015

“Peter the Apostle.” Giuseppe Nogari (1699-1766)

1 Peter 1   (New Living Translation)

Greetings from Peter

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

He was not merely an apostle, but there is a sense in which he was the leader of the apostolic group. Peter was an important and influential man in the early church. Considering the author, the first Christians would receive this letter with a sense of importance.

Peter’s name is mentioned in the gospels more than anyone except the name of Jesus. So it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of some of the important mentions of Peter in the record of Biblical history.

  • When Jesus woke up early in the morning to pray before the sun came up, Simon Peter led the other disciples on a hunt to find Jesus (Mark 1:35-39).
  • Peter put his nets out at the direction of Jesus to bring in a massive catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11)
  • Peter stepped out of the boat during a raging storm and walked on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:24-33).
  • Peter was the one who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and to know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).
  • Peter saw Jesus transfigured in glory, together with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9).
  • Peter was the one who asked Jesus how many times we should forgive a brother that sins against us, quoting the high number of “seven times” (Matthew 18:21-35).
  • Peter was the one who asked Jesus, after the encounter with the rich young ruler, what the disciples would receive for giving everything up to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27-30).
  • Peter was the one who insisted that Jesus would not wash his feet; then he asked Jesus to wash his whole body! (John 13:16-20).
  • Peter heard Jesus predict that he would deny Him three times (Matthew 26:30-35), and Peter replied, “Even if I have to die with you I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35).
  • Peter was the one who cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus (John 18:1-11).
  • Peter denied Jesus three times, cursing and swearing that he did not even know “the Man,” refusing even to name the name of Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).
  • Peter was the one who ran with John the disciple to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection, after hearing the report of the women that the body of Jesus was not in its tomb (John 20:1-10).
  • Peter received a public restoration of Jesus in front of the other disciples after the resurrection of Jesus (John 21).

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Peter presents God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — the Trinity.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

The Hope of Eternal Life

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

1. eternal life

John 10:28 (NIV)

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

God has a great and important purpose in testing our faith.

  • Faith is tested to show that it is sincere faith, true faith.
  • Faith is tested to show the strength of faith.
  • Faith is tested to purify it, to burn away the dross as from the gold.

So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

1. happy child

Psalm 13:5 (NASB)

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a great hymn about “this Good News” — “And Can It Be” sung by Samuel Wilson.

_________________________

A Call to Holy Living

13 So think clearly and exercise self-control.

Get rid of loose and sloppy thinking. Bring the rational and reflective powers of your mind under control. Control what you think about, those things you decide to set your mind upon.

1. fruit-of-the-spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

1Pet1 holiness

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

DESTINY OF HOLINESS

Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is.  The destined end of man is not happiness, or health, but holiness.  Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfillment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy them.  The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy.

Do I believe I need to be holy?  Do I believe God can come into me and make me holy?  If by your preaching you convince me that I am unholy, I resent your preaching.  The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it must reveal that I am unholy; but it also awakens an intense craving.  God has one destined end for mankind:  holiness.  His one aim is the production of saints.  God is not an eternal blessing-machine for me; He did not come to save men out of pity; He came to save men because He had created them to be holy.  The Atonement means that God can put me back into perfect union with Himself, without a shadow between, through the Death of Jesus Christ.

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

Holy living is incomplete if it is not accompanied by love.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.

The grass withers and the flower fades.
25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Nogari.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Peter_the_apostle.jpg
map.  http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Peter_Intro_Map.jpg
“Home at Last”  by Danny Hohlbohm.    http://www.art.com/products/p10109503-sa-i1647359/danny-hahlbohm-home-at-last.htm?sorig=cat&sorigid=0&dimvals=0&ui=11aa7d9634dc49e8bfbe805af7f577a0
happy child.  http://www.dgcommunity.net/dgcommunity/xMWimages/11252.JPG
fruit of the Spirit.  http://www.sermons4kids.com/fruit-of-the-spirit.gif
holiness.  http://www.ancientfuturefaithnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/holiness.jpg
flowers in a field.  http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1331/536347063_9abbc12f40.jpg

935.) 1 Peter 5

November 30, 2012

“The Apostle Peter Kneeling” by Rembrandt, 1631

1 Peter 5 (New Living Translation)

Advice for Elders and Young Men

1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”

5. basin and towel

John 13:1-5 (New International Version)

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.     –1 Peter 5:7

The Christians Peter addressed were facing persecution.  They did not know whom they could trust; a friend, a neighbor, or even a family member could betray them, resulting in suffering and even death.  But Peter had walked with the risen Christ, and he had personally experienced the love that Jesus had for His followers.  He knew that Christ was in control, capable of handling every trial and that He wanted to do so as an expression of His love.

Casting our cares is a choice.  It means consciously handing over our anxiety to Christ and allowing Him to carry the weight of our problems.  At times this is the most difficult part of trusting God!  We don’t like turning over the responsibility of our problems.  We have been taught that self-reliance is good and praiseworthy.  We may even enjoy worrying.  Yet if we are to be freed from the burden of our concerns, we must choose to cast them into the strong hands of our Father.

Peter does not distinguish between little cares and big cares.  God does not differentiate between problems we should handle on our own and God-sized needs.  He asks us to turn them all over to Him.  He stands prepared to take your load and to carry it for you.  Will you let Him?

Psalm 37:5 (English Standard Version)

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

5. roaring-lion

quotes from The Screwtape Letters,
by C. S. Lewis

(in which an older demon, Screwtape, instructs a younger one, Wormwood, about how to be successful in luring and keeping people away from God, whom he calls the Enemy)

“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

_________________________

9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

__________________________

Music:

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Peter says God will “place you on a firm foundation.”  Organist Diane Bish and the Chancel Choir of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church perform this stirring arrangement of  “How Firm a Foundation” by Bish.  Click  HERE  to be inspired!

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

–London pastor John Rippon, 1787

__________________________

Peter’s Final Greetings

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

13 Your sister church here in Babylon sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with Christian love.

Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.

5. Peter_Signature

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Rembrandt_st._peter_in_prision.jpg
basin and towel stained glass from Vienna Baptist Church, Vienna, Virginia.  http://www.vbc-va.org/images/template/discipleship_window_side.jpg
cartoon.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8E54dOHsMTw/RyLGPeHJjqI/AAAAAAAAANY/DbiLe6KxRj4/s1600-h/Carry+your+books+%282%29.bmp
roaring lion.  http://reallyrobins.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/roaring-lion.jpg
Peter signature.  http://www.e-mailmarketing.com.au/profitune/Peter_Signature.gif

934.) 1 Peter 4

November 29, 2012

Saint Peter, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1618.

1 Peter 4 (New Living Translation)

Living for God

1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. 6 That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

4. pray

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (King James Version)

Pray without ceasing.

8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

4. graphics-love-n-hearts

Proverbs 10:12 (New American Standard Bible)

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

4. hospitality

Romans 12:12-13 (New International Version)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Suffering for Being a Christian

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

PARTAKERS OF HIS SUFFERINGS

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oh, I can’t deal with that person. Why not? God gave you ample opportunity to soak before Him on that line, and you barged off because it seemed stupid to spend time in that way.

The sufferings of Christ are not those of ordinary men. He suffered “according to the will of God,” not from the point of view we suffer from as individuals. It is only when we are related to Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. It is part of Christian culture to know what God’s aim is. In the history of the Christian Church the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; men have sought to procure the carrying out of God’s order by a short cut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering, the way of the “long, long trail.”

Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp our personal ambitions right out? Are we prepared for God to destroy by transfiguration our individual determinations? It will not mean that we know exactly why God is taking us that way, that would make us spiritual prigs. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly; then we come to a luminous place, and say – ”Why, God has girded me, though I did not know it!”

_________________________

Acts 5:40-42 (New Century Version)

The Sanhedrin called the apostles in, beat them, and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus again. Then they let them go free. The apostles left the meeting full of joy because they were given the honor of suffering disgrace for Jesus. Every day in the Temple and in people’s homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News—that Jesus is the Christ.

_________________________

4. congrat promo

“If every call to Christ and His righteousness is a call to suffering, the converse is equally true–every call to suffering is a call to Christ, a promotion, an invitation to come up higher.”

–Charles Brent (1862-1929)

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,

“If the righteous are barely saved,
what will happen to godless sinners?”

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

_________________________

Music:

All this suffering — and for what?  Ah, believer, look what awaits you!  “Den Store Hvide Flok” sung in Norwegian (as it was at my mother’s funeral).  Words in English below.

Who is this host arrayed in white
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
That stands with palms and sings its psalms
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints who kept God’s Word;
They are the honored of the Lord.
He is their prince who drowned their sins
So they were cleansed, restored.
They now serve God both day and night;
They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring when they all sing
With angels shining bright.

On earth their work was not thought wise,
But see them now in heaven’s eyes;
Before God’s throne of precious stone
They shout their vict’ry cries.
On earth they wept through bitter years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife to heavenly life,
And freed them from their fears.
For now they have the best at last;
They keep their sweet eternal feast,
At God’s right hand our Lord commands;
He is both host and guest.

O blessed saints, now take your rest;
A thousand times shall you be blest
For keeping faith firm unto death
And scorning worldly trust.
For now you live at home with God
And harvest seeds once cast abroad
In tears and sigh.  See with new eyes
The pattern in the seed.
The myriad angels raise their song.
O, saints, sing with that happy throng;
Lift up one voice; let heav’n rejoice
In our Redeemer’s song!

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Rubens.  http://dailyoffice.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/stpeterrubens.jpg

pray.  http://morefire.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/pray.gif

love.  http://dragonartz.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/graphics-love-n-hearts-preview2-by-dragonart.png?w=495&h=277
hospitality.  http://clubenglish.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/club/user/hosfair/images/hospitality_gift1.gif
Why does God allow suffering?    http://static.lulu.com/browse/product_thumbnail.php?productId=12304281&resolution=320
congratulations.    http://rlv.zcache.com/congratulations_on_your_promotion_card-p137791112957664762b21fb_400.jpg