Tag Archives: 1 Peter

Hospitality | An Invitation to Gather, Love, & Share

15 Nov

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“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9″

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

This is the time of the year when the focus shifts and we ramp up for the coming holiday season. With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon some of us will travel; enjoying the welcome of others and some of us will host family or other visitors into our home. The emphasis is often on entertaining rather than servings. We strive for the perfect tableau, copying the impossible Pinterest tablescapes — the right china, the perfect place setting, and whimsical unique place cards. Now there is a time…

Please click here to continue: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Hospitality | An Invitation to Gather, Love, & Share.

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Servanthood: A Lost Art?

31 May

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 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Have we lost the art of servanthood? Have we allowed the world to twist, pull, corrupt, and change the definition of a word originally intended to mean a demonstration; a beautiful outpouring of our love for each other expressed as a devoted waiting upon? Have we forgotten who it is we ultimately serve; who our master is or are we weighted down under personal feelings and columns filled with tallies of perceived slights and offenses that allow the muddied messy church to obscure the true freedom of othercentered serving?Servanthood is not synonymous with slavery. We are as liberated as one dwelling on this cursed earth can be. We have been ransomed, a blood price was paid, and we are no longer living in bondage; no longer in chains. Our Savior, the ultimate servant Mark 10:45, poured out His grace as He hung on that tree along with abundant faith and love 1 Timothy 1:14 that we might glorify God through selfless service to others in an expression of deep love and shared grace.

Please read the remainder of the article at:  Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Servanthood: A Lost Art?.

Grace Poured Out | Wash in the Waters Again

3 May
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“and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” —1 Peter 3:21

The scope and magnitude of God’s love for us is most spectacularly displayed in the saving work of His own son, Jesus, on the cross. It is there in the torturous death of Jesus, blood spilled on behalf of humanity to satisfy the wrath of God (propitiation), taking upon Himself our sin and the sins of the whole world and giving us His righteousness (double imputation), conquering death when He rose from the grave (resurrection); His infinite grace is shown.

“…the aim of it all is to display the fullness of the glory of Christ, which is the glory of God. Everything that Christ did, and everything that he reveals about himself, and everything that Paul and the other biblical writers teach about Christ, aim at this—that the world would see and savor and show the fullness of the glory of Christ” John Piper, Justification and the Diminishing Work of Christ.

Mercy and grace at the cross highlight the glory of God, revealing His character. It is to this we are drawn. We come with empty hands, souls aching, laid bare, surrendered and through faith we are forgiven, made new, clothed in righteousness we could do nothing to earn or deserve, and adopted as sons and daughters of the King.

“Christ says, ‘Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.’” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We celebrate the grace of Christ and proclaim His glory through baptism. We announce to our brothers and sisters we have trusted in Christ, our old self has died.

“It’s what happens spiritually when we baptise people we take them under the water, they die and they’re brought back up, and they have this visceral temporal experience of what it meant when they became a Christian” Pastor Bob Burris, It is Well with My Soul.

Baptism serves as a celebration, proclamation,and an illustration of what it means to be a Christian not just for the person immersed but for the church as a Gospel reflection.

“Where there is genuine faith on the part of the person being baptized, and where the faith of the church that watches the baptism is stirred up and encouraged by this ceremony, then the Holy Spirit certainly does work through baptism…” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Reflect on your own baptism in when you need a reminder of the grace of God. The following article examines how baptism keeps God’s presence near, “…as a means of grace throughout our Christian lives as we watch, with faith, the baptisms of others and renew in our minds the riches of the reality of our identity in Christ…”

Wash In the Waters Again by David Mathis

Visible words. That was the Reformers’ term for baptism and the Lord’s Supper.In complement to the spoken words of gospel preaching, these twin rhythms of the gathered church are dramatizations of the grace of God. These “visible words” rehearse for us the center of our faith through images and actions in the God-given pictures of washing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Alongside preaching, they reveal to us again and again the very heart of the gospel we profess and aim to echo. They are enacted “signs,” pointing to realities beyond themselves.

But these ordinances are not just signs, but “seals.” They confirm to us not just that God has done something salvific for mankind, but that it applies to me in particular. The gospel is not only true in general, but specifically for me. And when a Bible-believing, gospel-cherishing church applies the seal to me, it can be a great grounds of assurance that I myself am included in the rescued people of Christ.

In this way, baptism and the Lord’s Supper serve to mark us out as the church, distinct from the world, and are part of what it means for the new covenant to be a covenant — with acts of both initiation and ongoing fellowship, both inauguration and renewal.

View the remainder of the article here…Wash In the Waters Again | Desiring God.

Love So Amazing, So Divine | Poured Out, Overflowing

17 Jan

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“We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19

“God chose the moment…He sat His love upon you…He sent His Spirit to open your eyes to see the beauty of Christ…[to] take you for Himself” (Pastor Burris, The Affection of God in the Soul of the Church).

When the dank dark corners of our heart are flooded with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God we see in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) and the hidden corners are illuminated as we are chosen to Him; the goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and graciousness of the Lord shines through; made visible to a heart no longer blind. His Word ceases to be unintelligible, revealing cogent scripture we can examine and savor; a feast for a newly awakened palate. 

“…a mighty power from God coming upon their souls, conforming them to God, addicting them to God, uniting them with God, making them center on God,…The Spirit that is from God suits us to God and to divine things and makes us savor the things of God and take delight in them.” (John Howe, via Ray Ortlund, Has He Given You New Life).

As believers filled with the Lord’s love from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17) our desires change. We become preoccupied with the Gospel and crave spiritual sustenance with hunger pains welling up from the soul only the Word can quell. 

“I can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it, reading about it, wrestling with it, reveling in it, standing on it, and thanking God for it. For better or for worse, my focus has become myopic. My passion has become singular.” (Tullian Tchividian, I’m Addicted).

As God’s own possession filled with love poured out, the scope and magnitude of His love via propitiation spectacularly displayed upon the cross creates a spiritual affection for Him and those who belong to Him. We cannot remain comfortable, complacent, apathetic, and outside of community in the shadow of such enormity nor can we not love fellow Christians deeply and intensely. Seek revival; transform and renew your mind; immerse yourselves in the Bible memorizing, meditating, reading, studying and praying scripture so as to truly know the love of God. Ache to love Him more; you cannot love too much. 

The following article offers a love expository and posits love is the most important pursuit:

Love Is Not a Verb, by Jon Bloom

Based on the following statements by Jesus, I would say that love is the most important thing to pursue this year.

[The greatest commandment:] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37–39

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

However, we must be clear on what love actually is or else we will find ourselves lost in the pursuit of it and lose our resolve. Love Is Not Only a Verb…

Keep reading here: Love Is Not a Verb | Desiring God.

Additional Resources:

The Affection of God in the Soul of the Church

Love So Amazing, So Divine | Poured Out, Overflowing

Spiritual Disciplines For the Purpose of Godliness — Journaling | 1st in Series

9 Jan

journal“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” 1 Timothy 4:7b NASB

“By divine design we are aliens…living in dramatic and serious times” (Pastor Burris, “Why We Don’t Belong Here“).

As believing Christians we live in a country increasingly hostile to the road we choose to travel as we seek after God (John 15:18). 

“We have become outsiders just as Jesus was an outsider. We are marginal in our culture because Jesus is marginal. The cross is the ultimate expression of marginalization and to follow him is to take up our cross daily. It is daily to experience marginalization and hostility. Being on the margins is normal Christian experience” (Tim Chester, “Everyday Church”). 

The prospect of negative public opinion or living on the fringe of society may frighten us into donning a veneer of secularization in order to fit in. A comfortable complacency may attach itself impeding one’s  pursuit of holiness and desire to know God. This is in direct opposition to what we are called to be —  obedient and holy (1 Peter 1:15-16); glorifying; a reflection of our Lord and Father to those who do not know Him (Matthew 5:15-16). We cannot become Christlike under our own power rather, God provides the impetus for change and spiritual maturity.

“The Spiritual Disciplines…promote spiritual growth. They are habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times” (Don Whitney, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”).

The spiritual disciplines we choose change us from the inside when we hone our focus and dependent on the Holy Spirit”…place ourselves before God…” (Whitney), allowing Him to do a good work in us. One of the most introspective disciplines is journaling. Pouring out our hearts to the Lord and trusting Him with our feelings (Psalm 62:8) allows us to articulate a contemporaneous account of where we are in our faith walk. Creating a snapshot of a moment in time allows us to see the course God is charting and resulting changes. 

“The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian.  No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part” (Jerry Bridges, “The Pursuit of Holiness”).

Journaling can help us stay rooted in Christ by serving as a visual reminder of our goals and the need for continued spiritual discipline  maintenance. The following excerpt offers additional journaling assistance:

Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline, Larissa Arnault

The new year is finally here, which means resolutions might be on your mind. In lieu of a typical goal like losing 10 pounds, how about adding the practice of journaling to your 2014? Here are a few reasons to put pen to paper.

Leave it all on the page. When I have lots of thoughts dancing around my head, whether it’s a to-do list or how upset I am by the conversation I had earlier with so-and-so, putting what’s in my mind on paper unclutters my brain and frees me to think of other things or, even better, sleep. Giving those thoughts to God can help you sort things out in a way that surpasses your own understanding.

Let your thankfulness flow. If daily thought pouring feels like too much of a commitment, try keeping a gratitude journal. My dear friend Anne Marie sent me one last year, and I loved filling in the blanks each day. The daily deed is simple—write a list of five things you are thankful for. Mine ranged from the hot water in my shower to good conversations to God’s provision and everything in between. When you’re mindful of things you’re grateful for each day, your outlook on life changes dramatically.

Lift up your prayers. Journaling is a great way to pray. The act allows you to quiet yourself and hear from God in a more structured setting. It also helps you stay awake if you’re prone to falling asleep while praying (like me). Maybe you’ll have an epiphany as your pen glides over the page. Or perhaps you’ll look back over the past month and see God speaking to you a bit more clearly. Either way, journaling can provide divine perspective.

Look back. Writing down goals increases your chances of achieving them, so set yours on paper and hold yourself accountable. I like to write down a fun list of things to do (big and small) on my birthday—one goal for each year of my life. Last year’s list included paddle boarding, buying balloons, and being a better listener. Use the documented pages to reflect on how far you’ve come, and keep track of what you’d like to do next.

Let it all hang out. You can truly be yourself on the pages of a journal. Say what’s really on your mind. Go ahead and word vomit all over the page. YELL IN ALL CAPS IF YOU NEED TO. Cover the page with tears if they flow. Dot all your I’s with little hearts if you’re so inclined. No matter what the pages end up saying, God can handle it.

Excerpted from: LifeWay Women All Access — Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline.

Additional Resources:

The Hole in Our Holiness – Kevin DeYoung

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness, Kevin DeYoung

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney

You Can Change, Tim Chester

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges

Growing in holiness | Mars Hill Church

Harried, Hurried? | Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

17 Dec

stress“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

If you find yourself harried, hurried, and just too busy to do the will of God during this Christmas season and your focus has shifted from Christ to the wordly pursuit of the perfect gift, meal, or travel experience…refocus. If all thoughts of serving have fled under the crushing stress of unrealistic expectation and the highlighted ideal has robbed you of your joy…realignPerfect holiday tableaus are erected months in advance in the hopes we will all be looking ahead willing to spend now for unattainable perfection in the future or looking to the past at less then ideal gatherings that missed the mark hoping for a second chance to recreate what failed. Blind yourself to these manufactured distractions…re entrench

“…your only hope for joy, and your only hope for peace, and your only hope for comfort, your only hope for love, and your only hope for strength in this life is found in the cross of Jesus Christ” ― David Platt

You cannot truly find your joy, peace, hope, love, strength, rest, or faith anywhere else but in the cross. Peter began his letter in 1 Peter 1:1-9 by addressing believers; reminding them they owe their salvation to God’s mercy and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is there on that tree fashioned of wood and nails we find God’s gift; a heart poured out. When weariness deflects your thoughts from the magnitude of the cross immerse yourself in the Word…drink it in and rediscover the hope and joy inexpressible found when you rest in the Lord.

“And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,

But the calm peace of God that filled His Breast?

For still a living Voice calls to the weary,

From Him who said, “Come unto me and rest.””

― Freda Hanburry Allen

Additional resources for women: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Harried, Hurried? | Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

The following article explores the ways Jesus offers us a place to store our fears and rest in Him…

Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon

For many, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas leave us grateful but gassed. In the name of holiday festivities, December means attending multiple Christmas parties, traveling to see family and friends, and standing in line to get the ever-elusive “perfect gift.”

As much joy as Christmas brings, if we aren’t careful, holiday cheer can sap our energy and steal our joy. It is a great irony that the season of light often feels heavy. What can we do to find rest in this annual merry-thon?

Five things you might do to cultivate spiritual rest.

1. Unplug. While there’s a place for Christmas specials and live nativities, doing something smaller, with less pomp and circumstance, may be exactly what you need to cultivate rest. Such a change might give you the margin you need to be still and know that he is God.

2. Say no to something old. If your schedule includes multiple family meals, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges, find one (or more) to which you can say no. We are finite creatures, and it is good for us to draw boundaries.

3. Say yes to something new. Sing Christmas carols in a nursing home. Serve meals at a local mission. Take groceries to a needy family in your church. Christ’s invitation to rest is not a call to complacency; it is a chance to work in his strength (Col. 1:29).

4. Feed on the Word. As much attention as we give to savory meats and holiday treats, we should give more attention to God’s Word. This might mean reading Advent scriptures or picking up a book on Christ’s birth. However it looks, spiritual rest always involves hearing the promises of the gospel.

5. Pray. With your family or with others, carve out time to praise God for the birth of Christ. Pray for the persecuted church and those who are suffering this Christmas. Pray for missionaries and for those who don’t yet know Christ.

Whatever you do this month, put Christ at the center. And whether you finish the month rested or restless, take comfort that ultimately his life, not ours, secures our Sabbath rest. In this month’s merry-thon, remember that Christ has come to be the good news of great joy for weary people.

Excerpted from David Schrock’s article Finding Rest in the Merry-Thon – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

 

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