Peter was to be blamed

Two-faced people can be very difficult to endure. They speak one way about you to your face, and then another way when you are gone. This can be frustrating. People are two-faced for many reasons. Maybe they enjoy hating on people. Or they esteem politeness too much. Sometimes it’s because they lack backbone.

In Galatians, we see one instance of this. Galatians 2 speaks of Paul’s meeting with Peter at Antioch. Peter had walked with Christ. Had seen miracles. Had understood salvation. Peter knew the new covenant Christ set up. But Peter lacked backbone. He lacked conviction. And he was allowing himself to act differently depending on which Christians he was around.

There was a disagreement at the time as to whether new believers needed to follow all Jewish law. Specifically circumcision. Circumcision had been done away with by the new covenant, but many Jews wrongly believed it was necessary. Peter would act all friendly to new converts who lived in Christian liberty, but when certain Jews came around, he would pull away from the new converts who weren’t circumcised.

Paul said flat out, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Paul wasn’t having it. He wasn’t going to sit by and allow Peter to live this double life.

Galatians 2 points out that Peter was afraid.

He was afraid of what others might think or say. He was afraid to take a stand.

After Paul confronted him, Peter repented and changed his actions. He took a stand for what was right.

How about you? Do you act differently around different crowds of people? Do you exercise Christian liberty with some Christians, and then abandon them when “more strict” Christians come around?

I challenge you. Take a stand for your beliefs. Don’t make a scene or start a fight, but be open about what you believe and what is right. Don’t be afraid to “look bad” in the eyes of other Christians when you know you are following what the Bible teaches.

Peter was to blame. You don’t have to be.

God wants you to judge . . . only certain people

Do you know that the Bible actually expects us to judge people?

 

But not everyone.

The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 5. In this chapter, Paul is writing to a church that has allowed many of their members to remain members while they lived with obvious sin. These sins that the church tolerated were so terrible Paul says that such sins weren’t even found among the heathen.

Christians were behaving worse than unsaved people!

Obviously, there was a major problem. Paul essentially tells the Corinthians that they need to start making judgments about the people in the church. In this passage, we see that Christians have the authority to tell other Christians to either change their behavior, or leave the church.

One Bible version says, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

Did you catch that? We aren’t supposed to judge people who aren’t saved. Only those who are.

How do you enact judgment? Do you speak to a brother in Christ when they are losing their way? Do you encourage them to get on the right path?

How do you behave towards the unsaved? Do you cast judgment and condemnation on them? Or do you allow God to judge them?

Let us always remember that we are responsible for holding the Church accountable to God’s commands. It may not be fun, or politically correct, but if someone continues in open sin without changing, we need to send them away. On the flip side, people who do not claim to be Christians, are not for us to judge. God judges them.

Let us show God’s love by encouraging Godly lives in our fellow Christians, and allowing God to be the one to judge the world.

It’s a very small thing

A young man hunches over his desk poring over data and the materials of his job. He’s trying to find a solution to please his boss, but he doesn’t see one. He’s wondering how that will affect his standing in the company. Without hesitating, his mind goes to what his boss with think if he doesn’t find a solution. What will his wife and family think if he doesn’t get that promotion.

A little child stands on the playground with her peers behind her. They dare her (against her mother’s instruction) to climb to the top of the structure and walk dangerously on a thin pole several feet from concrete. She feels the stress of their jeers and thinks. What will they think if I don’t? Will I have any friends?

A suspect sits on the witness stand. He is asked to answer a difficult question. The truthful answer will throw him in questionable light even though he is innocent. Should he tell the truth and expose himself to a greater risk of being convicted? What will the jury think when they here the answer? What will his family think if he is convicted?

I’m sure you have been in this position. I know I have. We wonder, “What will __________ think?” We play over all the outcomes and people’s possible thoughts and judgments and we become stressed. We imagine being judged and condemned before we even are. Our worry of another’s possible thoughts, causes alarm. And we are left with cloudy judgment and a lack of conviction on what we should do. We allow another’s thoughts of us, dictate or influence our decisions.

This is not God’s way.

I would like to show you just a snapshot of Paul’s motivation in life. He was speaking to the Corinthians on a subject matter somewhat different from ours when he said,

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self  . . . he that judgeth me is the Lord.”   1 Corinthians 4

Think with me. Our motivation for living is Christ.

He is our all in all.

If our purpose is to please Him, what does it matter when others think ill of us in the most trivial or serious matters?

Christ is the only one we must please. Throughout history, God has called up men to speak on behalf of truth and righteousness- and they were not always well received. Could they have accomplished their calling by coddling the whims of men?

I challenge you, realize that it is a VERY small thing that someone on this earth should judge you. It doesn’t matter what your teachers think. What your boss thinks. What your friends think. What the general public thinks. Even on occasion, what your family thinks.

It matters what Christ requires of you.

The man at his job could solve the problem best if he sought divine guidance. Or maybe his boss knew he couldn’t solve the problem, but wanted to see how he acted under stress. Seeking God is always less stressful. That girl on the playground could have pleased her friends or broken her arm by accepting the dare. Perhaps by refusing, she would make the best choice and find some better friends. If the man on the witness stand lied, he would be sowing corruption in his life. If it came out later in the investigation he lied, it would go badly for him. If he told the truth, he would please his God in heaven and accomplish His supreme will.

When we strive to please man, we put our quest to please God on hold.

Don’t compromise.

Allow your desire to please Christ motivate your every action.

Uphold the Strong

When a brother falls to sin, it is natural for us to pass prayer requests and take time to lift them up in prayer. Of course, that is a good thing and should be done. But what if we were praying for that person before they faltered?

The Lord commands us to edify one another. This literally means to build one another up. God doesn’t tell us to pray for people just when they are faltering, He just tells us to pray for one another.

Colossians 1 gives a great biblical example of how it is clearly Biblical to pray for even Christians who appear to be doing well. In Chapter 1, Paul says that he has heard of the believers at Colosse. He heard of their salvation, and their love to others. And more than this, He heard of their spiritual fruit that they have had since they first got saved.

In other words, these people accepted Christ and immediately began showing love to one another. They continued to grow in Christ and show the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Then Paul says, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” Did you catch that? Paul is happy that they’re saved, and that their growing, but he knows that it does not stop there. He wants them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will!

I think it is important to note that Paul was praying for Christians who had not done anything amiss. They weren’t falling to sin, facing great temptation, or even experiencing great trial. They were prospering in Christ! And he was praying for them. -always and without ceasing.

I challenge you to take a look around at those people in your life who look like they don’t need prayer. And pray for them. They need to grow in Christ just as much as anybody. Let’s take an aggressive view on spiritual growth.

Take some time today, and pray for someone who appears to need it the least. Pray that God would grow them, and fill them with the knowledge of his will. Pray whatever the Lord lays on your heart.

Let’s not pray only for the wounded, but also for the strong.

Working with God

In Matthew 28, Jesus speaks to those who labor. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you . . .” Think about that for a moment. Take God’s yoke on you. Yoke up with God. Imagine the God of the universe bending his back to lower the yoke for you. Imagine Him doing mindless menial labor- with you.

That’s the challenge- the command- that Jesus gives.

Paul illustrates this idea in Colossians 1. In verse 27 he says, “Whom [Christ] we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” Then he continues, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

Paul was working to teach every man. But he wasn’t alone. God was working in him mightily to accomplish the work that was necessary. Notice also that Paul was working according to God’s working. It wasn’t the other way around. Paul didn’t strike out with his own ideas. God worked something inside of Paul, and then Paul operated in the area that God had mightily worked in.

There’s something amazing about the thought of being co-laborers with God. It’s one of the most beautiful things of the Christian life. If you look closely, you can see that God works in us, so He can work through us, so we can work in others, in whom God is working. In reality, it would be simpler if God just did everything. It’s like having a little child in the kitchen who wants to help. It’s easier just to tell them to go play. It’s more work to invest in them and teach them.

But that’s the heart of God. He chooses to allow us to take His yoke. He chooses to work with us, through us, and in us. Aren’t you thankful that God allows you to be a part of his awesome and majestic creation?

Going back to the scripture, think about the specific task mentioned. Spreading the gospel throughout the world. I’ve known people who have, and I myself have, stressed about the great work that needs to be done. So many that haven’t heard. So much to share. It is easy for us to become anxious and worried about our own insufficiency and faults.

Remember God’s words in another part of Scripture, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6 It’s not your responsibility to save the world. It is your job to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord, and obey His will. This is not an excuse to do nothing, but a challenge to do all you can. Not out of fear and anxiety, but out of a calm and faithful heart, filled with dedication to the Father.

When you consider all that must be done, don’t stress, you have a pretty capable coworker. Just ask Him to do what He does best. Work with you, in you, and through you. If you will allow Him, He always will.

You’ll never want anything ever again!

Skimming over verses of the Bible without stopping to think about them is easy. Especially when we have a favorite verse coming up later in the chapter. I’ve been guilty of it countless times, and I’m sure you have been too. Just today, the Lord reminded me of a verse I’ve been skipping over for a while.

Psalm 23 is a favorite of many. It is very common to memorize this psalm in Sunday school or elsewhere. It is a very picturesque psalm with deep meaning. The ultimate truth in the Psalm is that God takes care of us. The first verse of the psalm says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

I’d just like to stop there and expound on that.

God is the one that shepherds, guides, and protects us. No one else. Even when we are under the protection of a government, organization, or even our parents, they are not the ones that look after us. God looks after us. He alone is our shepherd. He alone takes care of us, and always will.

Secondly, we will not want. This isn’t like the fleshly childish desire of wanting something, but it is the state of needing something. We will not lack any thing. You, as a Christian, will never be in desperate need of anything. Nothing at all. God takes care of you. That means in war- He takes care of you. In sickness- He takes care of you. In drought- He provides for you. In whatever state you are- He is providing for you.

This is a timeless truth that endures no matter what. God takes care of His own. You shall not want.

You may be thinking, “But I remember that time when I needed ______.” In all honesty, no matter what you think you needed, you probably didn’t need it at all. Paul went through many hardships, but in Philippians 4 he says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul learned that his needs weren’t that great after all. He always had what he needed. In all that he experienced, God took care of Him.

So I challenge you, whatever situation you may be in, or whatever crisis may seem imminent, put your faith in God. He takes care of us. He took care of David. He took care of Paul. He took care of thousands of His children throughout the ages. And He will take care of you.

As you walk in this life, seek the Lord first, and you will find that you will never want for anything.

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” – Psalm 34:10

What would fulfill your joy?

As we go through this life, many times we envision what would make us happy. We want a new car, a better house, a pay raise, nice vacation . . . But should any of these things qualify for things that would satisfy us? When our perspective is put in it’s proper place, we realize that all these things are nothing. Their lack of eternal value is glaringly apparent, and we find desire for more permanent and lasting endeavors.

Paul shares his heart with us in Philippians 2. He’s talking to believers when he pleads with them to be unified. Not only does unity bring of an atmosphere of Christlike love, but it presents a more protective barrier against Satan’s devices. Paul pleads from the depths of his heart,

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love,being of one accord, of one mind.”

Notice that Paul says that such unity in the church would “fulfill his joy.” It would please him completely, it would “fill his happiness to the brim” if the church would dwell in unity.

So here’s my humble challenge to you. Examine your desires. What do you believe would fulfill you. Is it some material thing that you have seen advertised? Is it some lifestyle you desire to attain? Or is it deeper or more meaningful?

If you find yourself desiring carnal things there is a simple solution. Ask God to help you delight in Him. For He tells us, in Psalm 37:4-5, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

God will give us proper and meaningful desires when we delight in Him. And when we continue to focus on Him, He brings them to pass.

I challenge you, let’s have meaningful desires, and focus on that which is eternal instead of physical pleasures. Let something meaningful fulfill our joy.

Am I therefore become your enemy?

In Galatians 4, Paul is confronting the Christians in Galatia about their view of the law. Apparently, some Jews had persisted in the idea that salvation still required obedience to the rules and regulations of the law. These Jews thought they had to earn their salvation! God made it abundantly clear that no one ever earned their salvation, not even Abraham, and Paul was trying to tell them.

In the middle of Paul’s letter he exclaims, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16

There are times in each our lives when we must feel what Paul may have felt when he was trying to teach these new Christians. When our friends make wrong choices and we wish to help, and they turn on us, not realizing that we wished only to spare them from harm.

No matter what happens or how a person reacts, when you speak the truth to them in love, you are never their enemy. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Even the Bible suggest that the truth hurts, but it tells us that it will set us free.

So my friend, don’t ever shirk from telling the truth to a friend when they need it. Be kind in the way you tell them, but if the truth is required, then give it. A doctor knows that telling a patient of his disease will “hurt” him, but he also knows that if they use the truth he gives, then they will  have healing.

You cannot control how a person reacts to the truth. They may reject it, but you should not withhold good when it is in your power to do it. Your duty is to love them. A misdiagnosis would make a patient feel better, but it is not love.

Telling someone the truth may feel like you’re becoming their enemy, but that is not the case. Sharing the truth out of love is only the work of a true friend.

 

Are you out of your mind?

Have you ever met someone that just thinks they are all that. They’re stuck up and prideful and look at you like you are nothing. It seems that there will always be people who look at others like they are less important, but we are not called to examine the hearts of others. We are called to examine our own heart.

Romans 12:3 says, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." I think this verse is pretty straightforward. Paul is telling us that we should mind how we think of ourselves.

I would invite you to examine yourself. How you view yourself verses others. Are you easily offended? Do you think of yourself deserving certain things? Do you ever find yourself saying, "How dare they . . ." when someone does something unkind to you? I would submit to you that Christ suffered much on our behalf and yet He "opened not his mouth." Christ humbled Himself to save your soul. Is it too much to ask that you humble yourself and show Christ’s spirit to others?

Paul’s exhortation in this verse is that we think soberly. The literal translation of "soberly" means "be in your right mind." It’s kinda funny, Paul is almost saying that when we harbor pride in our hearts, we are out of our minds.

I would encourage you, get in your right mind. Realize how much Christ has done for you. Remember how unworthy you were and are, and think soberly. If we humble ourselves, God even promises that He will exalt us.

"Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" – 1 Peter 5:5b-6

Is it all loss to you?

Is Christ your all in all? What do you seek most of all? Are you upset when you give things up to serve God, like you’re missing out on the best in life? Christ should be everything to the believer. We should esteem Him as our greatest treasure.

Paul says in Philippians 3:7, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Previously, Paul had been speaking of how out of all the Jews, he was chief. He pretty much gives us his resume. In the end, the list does not compare to Christ. Paul tells us that what he had believed to be his greatest blessings, He realized they were all nothing and worse than nothing.

I would like to challenge you, make Christ your all in all. Christ was crucified and rose again so we could have life. Don’t allow that truth to become old in your memory. Meditate on His sacrifice. Remember His love. Make His greatest gift your greatest treasure. Count all things as loss. Remove anything from your life that would diminish your dedication to Him. If you do, you will find your life to be one of great reward.

"And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." – Luke 18:29-30