Live it! Blog

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 00:00

this little light of mine

1 Peter 1:17, Hebrews 11:1-40

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear (1 Pet 1:17). 

By faith, all these in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) believed and by faith were justified. And yet, their faith was made evident to man by their works… 

By faith, Abel brought a better offering.

By faith, Enoch pleased God.

By faith, Noah built an ark.

By faith, Abraham obeyed and went out to a country not knowing where he was going.

By faith, Sarah was enabled to have children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.

By faith, Abraham offered his son Isaac.

By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.

By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons.

By faith, Joseph spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

By faith, Moses parents hid him.

By faith, Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God. By faith, he kept the Passover. By faith, the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land.

By faith, the walls of Jericho fell.

By faith, the prostitute, Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

By faith, Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jepthah, David and Samuel and the prophets, conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised: they shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; their weakness was turned to strength; and they became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - The world was not worthy of them.

Each of these people showed their faith by their works (see James 2:14-24). The world was able to see their faith by their works. God could see their faith, because He could see their hearts, but man only sees the outward appearance. 

“Let us not rob God of His glory in seeking to add any works of our own to the finished work of Christ for our salvation: and on the other hand, let us not forget that we who have thus been saved by grace through faith plus nothing, should be careful to maintain good works, letting our light so shine before men that they, seeing our good works, may glorify, not us indeed, but our Father which is in heaven (Matt 5:16).” (William L. Pettingill, Into the Holiest - Simple Studies in Hebrews. p.146)

Life Application Questions

  • What actions are a result of faith in your life? How have you lived out your faith?
  • Is your light shining brightly in this dark world, or is it “hiding under a bushel?”
  • How has the light of others shone so that you were attracted to the light?

~jlh

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 00:00

clothed in righteousness

1 Peter 1:14-16, Leviticus 11:44-55, 19:2, 20:7, Colossians 3:12-15

What does it look like to be a man? This was the question that Tunch Ilkin asked as he was growing up. Being a Turkish immigrant and living in Chicago, he believed that being a man meant being tough, fighting, demanding honor, cussing, drinking and drugs.  He still believed that these were the ingredients that gave a man value when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then he met The Steel Curtain, men who wore the uniforms of toughness and football excellence. Some of these men were also clothed with holiness. He had trouble understanding how these men defined what it meant to be a man. Their beliefs were in opposition to what he had learned about the religious beliefs of Islam. Thus began Tunch’s journey to understanding what it meant to have a relationship with the Creator God. Men like Donnie Shell, Mike Webster and John Cole were influential in verbalizing their faith and living it out. As Tunch interacted with them, he said, “I fell in love with the body of Christ before I fell in love with Christ.”

What does holiness look like? Read Colossians 3: 12-15 and note the things that we should be clothed with. Choosing your power suit as you prepare for that meeting at work, or choosing your workout clothes as you get ready for the gym are easier than choosing to grow in holiness and put on the very things that demonstrate our obedience to Christ. “The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11…obeyed by faith…obedience is the pathway to holiness…no one will become holy apart from a life of faith. Faith enabled us to obey the commands of God” (Jerry Bridges) Tunch talks about his Steeler brothers in Christ and how they asked him the hard questions that led him to salvation and how they discipled him after he came to faith. He watched them live their faith and practice holiness on and off the field. He observed Donnie Shell deliver a hit and then stop to pray over the player from the other team; and that Donnie never passed up a media opportunity to express his faith in Christ.  C.S Lewis said, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.” What does practical holiness look like when it is lived out in people’s lives?

 

We may not suit up in a football uniform, but God has still called us to holiness. “…Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) To be a dedicated believer there is no such thing as the “secular” and the “sacred”. All life is holy as we live to glorify God. Tunch left this side of heaven last week and his friend and teammate Craig Wolfey said, “He hit heaven’s gate at full sprint with a lot of high fives and hallelujahs.” Tunch chose to pursue a life of holiness because he found his Steeler teammates’ holiness irresistible. How can you embrace living a life of putting on the attributes described in Colossians 3 that will lead others to find your holiness irresistible? “Let me be a woman (or man), holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.”

lkb

Monday, 13 September 2021 00:00

holy. who me

1 Peter 1:13 and Colossians 3:1-11

Don't you love it when your boss or coach, parent (or God for that matter) tells you exactly what to do? There's no doubt in your mind about what they expect. It's even better when they tell you how to do what they've asked of you. 

So, if you are wondering how you're going to "be holy" as this week's Scriptures are teaching, here are some instructions from Peter and Paul that you'll find in today's texts. Hint. . . look for the ACTION WORDS!

Prepare your minds - and exercise self-control (1 Peter 1:13). The NIV puts it this way: "with minds that are alert and being fully sober... " It should go without saying that we can't focus on or do well at several things at once. So, in our "pursuit of holiness," we must have control of our minds. Philippians 4:8 (NLT) says it this way: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

Take action; exercise your thought control.

Put all your hope in what? Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. For when Jesus Christ is unveiled, a greater measure of grace will be released to you (The Passion translation). It's difficult to have hope when you are in trouble. It must have been almost impossible for those exiles in the first century to be hopeful. They had to intentionally place their hope in Christ just as we must. When you take the initiative, he will enable you by his grace. 

Where are you placing your hope?

Put to death (Colossians 3:5) whatever is keeping you from living a holy life. Kevin DeYoung writes: 

The hole in our holiness is that we don't care much about holiness. Or, at the very least, we don't understand it. And we all have our reasons too: Maybe the pursuit of holiness seems legalistic. Maybe it feels like one more thing to worry about in your already overwhelming life. Maybe the emphasis on effort in the Christian life appears unspiritual. Or maybe you've been trying really hard to be holy and it's just not working! Whatever the case, the problem is clear: too few Christians look like Christ and too many don’t seem all that concerned about it. (The Hole in our Holiness, Crossway publishing)

Will you begin your pursuit of holiness by taking action to "put to death" whatever belongs to your earthly nature? (Colossians 3:5a). Be specific!

Put on your new nature (Colossians 3:10). This seemingly impossible task is made possible because the Holy Spirit is present in us and is waiting for us to call on him for the help we need to take action. He's the great "enabler." Without him, you can't prepare your mind, put your hope in Christ, put to death your self and sin, or put on the new nature.         gmd & jbd

Friday, 10 September 2021 00:00

Matthew 11:13; 13:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-4

Ever been whitewater rafting? Maybe you were bold enough to climb into an inflatable raft and push out into turbulent water only to be tossed about in the competition between water and rock. A narrow gorge with millions of gallons of water pushing through is a rush of adrenaline. Hang on for dear life!

Massive hydraulics, towering liquid walls, deafening sound, class V rapids—powerful enough to stand your raft straight up in the air with you and your comrades in it—maybe! You are there to experience adventure, to behold beauty, to stand in awe, to feel the power. 

Prophecy is the whitewater of the Bible. Listen carefully and you will learn respect, stand in awe, feel the power. The competition between majesty and mercy, doom and gloom, hope and help is unparalleled, unequalled, unrivaled. It is God speaking in his loudest voice. He has important things to say.

The Name of the Lord comes from afar,   with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire; his breath is like a rushing torrent,   rising up to the neck (Isa 30:27-28).

Why would God speak this way? Maybe like a coach, when the players ignore what they were told and end up losing the game, God can become pretty upset, even angry. But also like a coach, he can be the quintessence of patience.

For many years, Lord God, you were patient with them; by your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention (Neh 9:30).

Probably more so than any other place in Scripture, we learn in the prophets how God thinks, how he has acted, how he will act. It’s fairly important information! Duh! Unfortunately, the prophetic portions of Scripture are probably the least understood.

For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves (Mal 4:2). That’s energizing language, but exactly what is it referring to? Maybe we don’t need to know. The point is we’re supposed to get excited! Feel the power!

Even the prophets themselves did not grasp the full significance of what God was saying: Many prophets longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it (Matt 13:17). Would it be fair to say that the prophets spoke better than they knew?

Life Application Questions

  • In the Old Testament, there are 187chapters in the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), 249chapters in the historical books (Joshua through Esther), 243 chapters in the poetic books (Job through Song of Solomon), and 250 chapters in the prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi)! It’s probably that last section that Christians know the least about. Why? Are those books less important? Would we understand God better if we understood the prophets’ messages better? (Recommended reading: Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Prophecy and Apocalyptic.)
  • Why hasn’t Jesus returned already? It’s been more than 2,000 years since he announced that he was coming soon (Rev 22:7, 12, 20)? Is he waiting patiently for something?
  • If God were still speaking today through prophets, what would he be saying? Would it be whitewater? Hang on for dear life?!

~ dbs

Thursday, 09 September 2021 00:00

1 Peter 1:10-12   

Peter’s sentences shine through Heaven’s windows revealing thunder and lightning. He sees redemption’s certainty and for disciples, contrasting mystery. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest careEven angels long to look into these things.” Peter’s words accurately describe God’s hiddenness (1 Peter 1:10 &12).

Reading the Bible means you are opening profound certainty as well as mystery. The long term strategy of God playing out in day-to-day events intrigues us; but there are also concealed truths. Disciples can be challenged with questions such as, “Why are these things (as in certain events) happening?”

Some apparent disciples will claim, at various points along the way, “God is doing this or that because….” Such disciples typically mean well, but they are not to be accorded the authoritativeness of Scripture. 

We trust redemption’s certainty while accepting mystery, in following Jesus. Truly, there are uncomfortable and disturbing times of waiting while wondering, “Why is this happening?” Using our deepest faith, we seek the peace which passes understanding.

Travel to the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The hospital is accessible from 10th Street near downtown. Nearby is White River Parkway. Riley Hospital serves children. It is a Level-One Trauma Center and provides a resource for the Indiana School of Medicine. 

There is an Emergency Department, a Newborn Intensive Care Unit, numerous specialty surgeons, oncology teams, tropical disease specialists and additional outpatient clinics serving more than 2,500 patients each week. Why do we need such institutions? Because children, the most innocent among us, are suffering. Disciples know, “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).

Life Applications

Which of faith’s certainties bring you great confidence?

Which of life’s puzzles trouble you most?

When the innocent suffer, how do you understand their suffering?

Are you becoming more aware some questions will never be answered outside of God’s presence?

~ajs

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