Thursday, March 31, 2011

Peter, God's Knight.

In our co-op homeschool we are studying the Armour of God, and various themes that arise from digging into that passage in Ephesians.  This is the stuff children love: dragons and knights, Masters and slaves, weapons and enemies to battle.

Last week we talked about standing firm, and what it means to stand fast in the face of danger and certain death.  Two examples of men who did so are Peter the apostle, and Martin Luther.

Peter was called to be a disciple of Jesus while he worked as an ordinary fisherman.  He was an impulsive man, passionate and quick to speak or act.  He was the only disciple who got out of the boat when Jesus was walking by on the water - yet his faith quickly faltered as he looked at the winds and the waves, instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus.

When Jesus asked the disciples, who do they say that I am, it was Peter who declared,  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus told the disciples that upon this "Rock", Peter, He would build His church, but in the next breath He had to rebuke the disciple for hindering Him as He set his face toward Jerusalem and His crucifixion and death. 

On the Mount of Transfiguration, this impulsive disciple didn't know what to say or do... so he offered to build tents to house the Lord and Moses and Elijah.  He reacted to the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus by slicing off an ear of the servant.  And after stating emphatically that he'd die for Jesus if necessary, it was Peter who denied our Lord three times.

He doesn't sound like a knight to me, when I think about his inauspicious beginning.

But when Jesus arose, everything changed.

Peter went from being a brash man who spoke his mind too quickly and acted on impulse, to a Knight of God.

Consider these events that took place after the resurrection of Jesus:

He took on a leadership role among the believers.

He preached a powerful sermon at Pentecost.

He healed the sick in the name of Jesus.  

He did this all publicly, without fear of reprisal, which certainly was coming.  The Saduccees had Peter and John arrested and thrown into prison.  The next day they were brought forth to answer to the religious leaders.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 

Notice who was questioning Peter.  Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas - the very men who hated Jesus and cried out for His blood.  The very men who orchestrated the events that led to His crucifixion.  These men were powerful.  These men were full of hate.  

And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

Imagine the scene.  The high-priests would have been sitting there on raised platforms, dressed in their robes, with servants and soldiers around them.  Peter and John would have been hauled forth from the prison cell, with no chance to wash up or change their clothes.  Peter, who had denied Christ just weeks before, spoke up bravely:

 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  There was no mistake about Peter's declaration.  This power to heal is from Jesus.

Whom you crucified.  There was no beating around the bush.  You religious leaders killed Him, but He has risen, and He is the cornerstone - the most important part of the building.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 
(Acts 4:5-13 ESV)

Peter stood before the very men who had plotted his Lord's death.  He boldly proclaimed the truth, trusting God for the results.  Truly, this man was a Knight of God.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paul and his "babies"

The apostle Paul had a heart for the lost.  He delighted in preaching to them, and he rejoiced when they showed evidence in their lives of being born-again by the Spirit.  In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul thanks God for the believers who received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit and with steadfastness of hope in Jesus Christ.  

A true believer walks with God.  God intrudes into his daily life, his thoughts, his actions.  He cannot NOT think about God, and lives with his heart turned toward heaven, Coram Deo.  

A true believer makes much of Christ, who grows "bigger" every day, while he himself diminishes.

A true believer makes much of the Bible.  Paul thanked God for the believers who accepted the word of God and recognized that it was not the word of men, but the actual Word of God.  And then he said this:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 ESV)

Have you been praying for a "beloved unbeliever" lately?  Have you spent time crying out for God's mercy on someone you care for, only to see him fall again and again into patterns of sin?  Don't give up on him!  God sees your tears, and He hears your prayers!

Paul cried out and prayed for others, and God answered those prayers, giving him spiritual children.  Paul didn't stop praying for them, because he knew they had an enemy.

In the third chapter of Thessalonians, Paul reminds his spiritual children that he wanted to come and see them, but Satan hindered.  The adversary tried to tear down the churches and discourage the believers.  

He whispered to them, "Look at Paul's troubles.  God's plan isn't working!"

He sneered, "Look at Paul's afflictions.  God must be displeased with him."


Paul wanted to protect them.  He didn't want them believing the lies of the devil.  He reminded them that God had revealed to him when he was first saved on the Damascus Road that he would suffer much affliction, but that it all was in His plan.  Paul didn't mind the affliction and the trials and tribulations so much (he could even sing while in prison) but he didn't want the tempter to tempt his spiritual "babies" to lose faith.  

So he sent Timothy to see how they were doing.

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 ESV)

It was as if Paul was holding his breath, waiting for the news.  When Timothy brought the good news of their faith and love, he breathed a huge sigh of relief.  He could finally live.  

How he thanked God for the work of grace He had done in their lives!  How he longed to visit, to teach them, to feed them the "pure milk of the Word" so they could grow and mature in the faith!

If you've prayed and longed for the salvation of someone for years and years and years, and finally you see the light in their eyes as they talk about God and rejoice in Him, then you'll know how I feel.  I have someone in my life who has recently been given eyes of faith and a heart turned towards God.  He is like my spiritual baby.  I feel like Paul, protective and tender towards him, longing for him to grow and mature and be steadfast and unmovable in his faith.

Paul's "babies" were tempted and attacked by the adversary.  It is to be expected.  My prayer is now that God will protect my "baby" from the fiery darts of the evil one.    

Oh, he'll be tempted.  All of us are.  But by God's mercy, he'll grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Beautiful Saviour, Jesus Christ.  

And now I can live!

Friday, March 25, 2011

God Can Change Your Circumstances - In a Flash!

And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver.
(2 Kings 6:25 ESV)
I've never lived through a famine, but I can imagine how terrible it must be.  I can imagine the anguish of a mother who has NOTHING to feed her children, who are so weak they don't even bother to cry, or to wipe away the flies that are pestering their eyes.

The famine in Samaria was so bad that a donkey's head, with little meat and very little worth, sold for 80 shekels of silver, and a small bit of dove pooh sold for 5.  It was horrendous.  It was so bad that women were agreeing to eat their sons in turn.  I cannot imagine that.

Elisha knew it was bad; but he trusted the living God.  Elisha knew that the king was blaming him for the famine - but he also listened to God and spoke His words of truth.

This is what he said:

Elisha Promises Food

But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.” Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” (2 Kings 7:1-2 ESV)
Imagine the nerve of the prophet! He declares that this time tomorrow, food will be cheap, and plentiful, and economic recovery will be complete.  They'd just been through a siege so terrible that everyone in the city was starving, and mothers were eating their own children.  Yet Elisha declared, Tomorrow about this time, it'll all change.

The captain didn't believe it.  He scoffed.  

So Elisha declared, you'll see it with your own eyes, but you'll not eat any of it.

  To mock the prophetic word is to mock the Lord himself, however, so he shall see it … but … not eat.

Go to 2 Kings 7 and read what happened.

In a nutshell, there were four lepers at the gate of the city who were in a desperate situation.  They figured they were going to die anyway, so why not go into the city.  But they knew that the people in Jerusalem would likely stone them if they entered, so they decided to take their chances in the enemy's camp.

Imagine their surprise when they crept into the massive Syrian camp to find NOBODY there. Oh, there were animals and tents and riches and food - lots of food.  But not a single soul.  

God had moved on behalf of His people.  He'd sent the sound of a rushing army into the Syrian camp, and the soldiers, seasoned soldiers, panicked and fled.  They left behind everything, even their weapons... and RAN.

The lepers rushed into tent after tent, finding goodies and hiding them for themselves.  Suddenly, they thought, what are we doing?  Why not go and tell the leaders of the city?

When the people found out what had happened, they rushed to the Syrian camp and plundered it.  In their haste, they trampled the captain who had scoffed at Elisha's prophetic word.  

. . .the captain had answered the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he had said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.
(2 Kings 7:19-20 ESV)

Lessons Learned

God can change your circumstances in a flash.   Are you in a bind?  Are you desperate for change?  Are you crying out to God for the salvation of a loved one?  DON'T GIVE UP!  Keep on trusting.  Keep on believing!  God knows your every need, and He can change your circumstances in a flash!

God is never to be mocked.   The captain knew that Elisha was a prophet of God, and he knew exactly what he was saying.  

God is to be praised and exalted.  Speak up boldly when you are among those who do not believe.  Don't hold back, don't be afraid.  If you love God, do not deny Him. 


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011


Ephesians is one of my favourite books in the Bible.  (I think I say that about all of them.)  There is such richness packed into this little book!  It starts by outlining the amazing spiritual blessings of one who has been called by grace out of darkness, into light.

We have been

  • blessed with every spiritual blessing
  • chosen in Him
  • predestined for adoption in love
  • blessed with His glorious grace
  • redeemed
  • forgiven of our trespasses
  • shown a mystery
  • given an inheritance
  • sealed with the promised Holy Spirit
Because we have been given so much, 
   we ought not to cease praying for the saints, 
       that God would give them wisdom 
            and help them to KNOW Him
                                and to understand the hope of their calling
                                and the riches of their inheritance
                                and the greatness of God's power
                                and the beauty of Jesus.

Too often we forget that we are truly blessed.  We begin to take things for granted.  We have warm beds to sleep in at night.  We have food on the table.  We openly read the Word of God and meet with other Christians, free from harassment or persecution.

We have a hope that is sure - one day we will see our Saviour face to face, and we will dwell in inexpressible glory with Him.  

Better than material blessings and the peace that passes all understanding is the fact that we have been forgiven of all of our trespasses, and shown a mystery that is incomprehensible apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ.  The gospel is simple, but makes no sense, unless God has opened your eyes to the truth.  

Are you grateful?

Do you understand how very blessed you are?

Do you realize that every good and perfect gift that you enjoy every day is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights - this Glorious Heavenly Father who delights to bless His children, and Who has lavished His love on us?  

Do you stop to thank Him?

When you snuggle that sleeping baby and feel his breath on your cheek, do you marvel at the grace of God in giving you this gift?  

When you rush to the car and open the door and get in and turn the key, are you thankful that it starts for you, and you can get to that appointment on time?

When you are cared for by a doctor, a nurse, a chiropractor, a naturopath... when someone uses the skill he has acquired by many long hours of study to bless you and help you stay healthy, do you breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to Him Who gave the gift of intelligence?

When the sun shines yet again, and the birds begin to gather once more in the trees next to your house, do you rejoice in your Creator and His times and His seasons?  When you plant a seed and nurture the living thing that pokes its head through the dirt, do you jump for joy?

You ought to, you know.

EVERY GOOD GIFT is from above.  Every mercy, every grace, every joy, every sorrow... all come from the loving Hand of a loving God Who blesses us daily.

Live a life of praise, my friends.  See the blessings, the ordinary everyday blessings, as what they are:  GIFTS FROM GOD.

And be ye thankful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love = Sacrifice

Tim Challies posted this today on his blog:

Here’s a stirring testimony of a husband’s love for his wife. “Although thoroughly enjoying his role as president at Columbia, McQuilkin resigned from his post in 1990 to care for his wife who had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease since the early 1980s.”