Archives For I Peter

Constant prayer has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I have a near constant dialog going with God. Somedays it’s more conversational, others it can just be a series of “I love You” or “Thank You” prayers being sent His way. Praying continuously is something I do without thinking. It wasn’t something I planned one day, it’s just how it is for me. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t like this.

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Even when times are difficult, the prayer continues. While there are plenty of other areas with which I struggle, this one isn’t a huge concern for me in this season of my life. Still, I recognize continuous prayer doesn’t come as easy to many. Knowing this, I wanted to spend some time looking at Scripture and talking through the discipline of praying continuously.

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Devoted followers of Christ hate when they sin. It’s maddening. We don’t understand why we continue to do things we know are not honoring to God (Romans 7:15). If you’re like me, you may have often pondered why we sin in the first place. It seems logical our love and devotion to God would keep us close to Him and far away from sin. It would be that simple if we did not have an enemy who was constantly seeking to trip us up and eventually destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).

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While we can’t blame Satan for our failures, we can blame him for planting the seeds of those failures. Ultimately though, the reason why we sin is because we choose to take our eyes off Jesus.

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It’s so easy to spend our lives living from the wrong perspective.  We make grand plans, spend our time earning a living, and serving God along the way. It sounds noble enough, but in truth we are living life backwards. We are looking through the lens of self-first instead of focusing our attention foremost on God.

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We should spend our days serving Jesus, and earn a living or pursuing our dreams along the way. Jesus will not take a backseat to anything or anyone. He is totally focused on helping you live your life in a way which glorifies the Father. This can only be accomplished in our lives by adopting a Jesus-first perspective.

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Jesus began His ministry by standing up in the Synagogue and saying God had sent Him “to proclaim freedom to the captives” (Luke 4:18). There were all kinds of captives in His day and in ours.  There are those held captive by spiritual darkness, prisoners of war, hostages held by terrorists, and those imprisoned by their own fear. Of course there are many others, but one type of captive that gets very little play in most circles are those trapped in the world of human trafficking.

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Sure, there are many who give lip service to this horror, but we simply don’t do justice to an industry that enslaves over 27 million people. These are people just like your sons, daughters, friends, and family. Twenty-seven million people who have unsurpassable worth in the eyes of God. And yet Christians remain far too silent.

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While some of our readers in other Countries might be unaware, it is hard to escape the fact in America we are in an election cycle. As with every cycle, there is an emphasis on candidates trying to win the “evangelical Christian vote”. Prominent Christian leaders come out of the woodwork to endorse one candidate or another, espousing why one follows Christian principles, while another does not.

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I saw a quote from a Christian musician I have held in high esteem that said, “You cannot be a Christian and vote for {candidate X}.” That made me really sad.  As someone who used to be heavily invested in political things, I understand the fervor and rhetoric. But almost thirty years removed from those days, I now have much greater clarity.

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Why choose Jesus? It’s a question I believe every disciple should be able to answer. To follow Jesus means our lives will be radically different from those around us. Living in such contrast to our culture should generate curious stares and abundant questioning. If no one is asking why you live the way you do, you are probably not modeling Christ well.

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So when people ask you why you follow Jesus, what do you say to them? Peter said we should always be ready to give reasons for believing as we do (I Peter 3:14-15). I’ll give you a couple of reasons why I choose Jesus, and follow with what that actually means to anyone who decides to follow Him.

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No matter who we are or what we do, our primary mission in life is to leverage everything we have to further the Kingdom of God. What this means is none of have any excuse for not serving God in every area of our lives. For too long we’ve made a distinction between those “in the ministry” and those who have traditional or secular jobs.

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In our family life, we look to others to give us spiritual direction while shirking our own responsibilities in that area. How we live our lives at work and at home will be a direct expression of where our hearts are in relation to our Creator. With that in mind, how well are you reflecting Christ? How are you leveraging your relationship with Him to further His kingdom?
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A vile disease has wormed its way into the hearts and minds of modern Christianity.  The teaching of “God wants you to be happy” is preached from pulpits across the nation regardless of the fact this principle is not found in Scripture. I don’t find anywhere where God said to “Be happy because I am happy”.  What I do find He says is to “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16) There is a vast difference between holiness and what we equate with happiness.

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Before you get too depressed, know this: there is no joy like being obedient and faithful to Jesus Christ. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, counts for nothing, and fades as quickly as it came. Holiness lasts forever, counts for everything in the eyes of God, and is hard to shake once you’ve tasted its beauty.
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C.S. Lewis once said, “Remember that the ‘bottomless sea’ can’t hurt us as long as we keep on swimming.” That’s important to remember when we are going through dark times in our life. Jesus never promised a life spent pursuing Him would be easy. In fact, He told us it would be anything but easy (John 15:18-20, John 16:33, 1 Peter 5:10, James 1:2-3).

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Still, it is easy to question where God is in the midst of our struggle. We feel as if we’re drowning and see no way to get back to the surface. I can think of no better advice than what Lewis gave: just keep swimming! God is always closer than you think. He’s right beside you, reaching out His hand (Matthew 14:27-31).
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In the book, “Servant God”, the author writes “God’s Kingdom is not defined by conquering our enemies in battlefields or courts of law but rather through our service and love for them. God’s Kingdom spreads by persuasion and truth, not force and coercion.” How often have we gotten this wrong throughout history? How often are we still getting it wrong in our everyday lives? We confuse politics with religion, and action with faith. Our job is to love and serve others, just like Jesus did. People are won for the Kingdom of God when they recognize the futility of their own efforts and their need for something outside of themselves to save them. They turn to God when they come to understand what He sacrificed on our behalf.

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