The Legacy of a Leader

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Living to Retire

The modern concept of retirement is relatively new for mankind, and it is not healthy for us. Research has shown that if we stop working and do nothing with our time, we will die sooner than if we are active in society. There is the misconception that retirement is when we stop working, but I would like to propose that for the Christian, retirement is simply when we can stop getting paid for our work. 

We were created to work. Work is actively challenging ourselves. It is serving others, utilizing time and talents for productivity. Over our lives, we develop skills and talents that can be used to give us a fulfilling life and help others at the same time. 

What if we saw retirement as the ability to work without needing a paycheck, committing the final years of our life to the Lord? 

Living to Influence

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that at age 60, you reach the top of your potential, and this continues to your 80s.

For the Christian, this peak potential is maximized in your retirement years if you have diligently led, discipled, and influenced others. People will actually listen when you speak when they see that  you have led your family well and raised up other leaders.  This is what it means to leave a legacy. As Christians, we are called to discipleship, and discipleship leads to legacy. 

You may be young and not thinking about your legacy, but life is short and the decisions you make today regarding the use of your time will either lead to regret or to an honorable legacy (see Ephesians 5:15-16). 

When it comes to leaving a legacy, here is one thing that I can guarantee: one day, you will regret the time that you spent on social media and other mindless activities. Those are wasted hours that you will never get back. 

Living to Finish Well 

The Lord instructed Moses to climb Mount Nebo on the western side of modern-day Jordan overlooking the ancient city of Jericho. From this 2600 foot view, the Lord showed Moses the entire Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 34:4). 

Moses was strong, even at 120 years old. Verse 7 says that his vigor was unabated. He climbed the mountain by himself, and that is where he died. 

God buried Moses in an unknown location. God knew that the people would set up an idol and worship Moses. So, the Lord in His perfect wisdom made sure that the body of Moses was never found. 

Moses lived his life, to the very last second, as a servant of the Lord, and his reward is great. 

Have you ever met someone who served the Lord till the day they died?

I have been privileged to have known and officiated at funerals of several great men and women who lived their lives wholeheartedly for the Lord. Every life is a gift from God, a gift given so that we can be a blessing to those around us, bringing glory to God.

Unfortunately, too many people think that the gift of life is an end in itself, focusing on selfish pleasures and ambition. The secret to a blessed life is not in seeking our own pleasure but in running the race well, to the end.  The more lives we influence for Christ along the way, the more enjoyable our life becomes. 

Living to Replicate

Moses didn’t simply die and leave the nation to fend for themselves; he had diligently raised up a leader to take his place (see Deuteronomy 34:9).  

Moses had recognized Joshua as a man with a passion for the Lord and His glory. In Numbers 27, we read that in the sight of the whole company, Moses anointed Joshua and blessed him. 

Joshua had been close to Moses. He had seen his trials, victories and failures. As he watched,  Moses was preparing him to lead the nation into the Promised Land. 

The most effective leadership development program is simply letting people walk with you. Doing life together, letting other people see your struggles, victories, and even failures. Setting an example in prayer and faithfulness to the Word of God. This is something that is sorely needed today. 

Joshua was well prepared to lead the nation because the Spirit of God was on him, but also because he had been an understudy of Moses every day for forty years. 

To set an example for the next generation, we need to be living a life worthy of being followed. This is not a perfect life, but one that demonstrates what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. 

Living for a better Moses 

We may be tempted to put Moses on a pedestal and glorify him (see Deuteronomy 34:10). Moses was a great leader, but he wasn’t the greatest (see Hebrews 3:1-6). 

Moses received the law of God on Mt. Sinai explaining God’s holy requirements. But the law could never be perfectly adhered to by any man. The law didn’t lead to rest. But Jesus came to fulfill the law, and He did (see Matthew 5:17).

God let Moses see the Promised Land, but he could never enter it. This is all that the Law can do; it lets us see God’s holy standard, but it cannot make us holy. 

Only by placing our faith and trust in Jesus will we be covered by his righteousness and immediately placed in right standing with God. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, we can enter the eternal Promised Land, not because we perfectly fulfill the law, but because Jesus did. Apart from Jesus, we can view the Promised Land, but we will never enter it. 

Living to Leave a Legacy

Christian leadership is influencing people towards a relationship and a lifestyle of following Jesus. What if, instead of living for retirement, you lived to leave a legacy that points people to Jesus?

How are you running your race?  What will your legacy be?

A Leader Prays

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My father was a pastor who faithfully served several churches in the years up until his passing in 2013. I am blessed to have had a father who was a man of conviction and a man of prayer.  

I am so grateful that I frequently caught him in prayer. He was leading by example and teaching me valuable disciplines.

Parents do you lead by example in your home? Do your children find you praying? Do your children even know that you pray?

We are continuing our series called, “leadership lessons from the life of Moses”. This week we focus on the importance of the prayer life of a leader.

A Christian leader is only as effective as his/her prayer life.

Moses the Priest.

Moses was a Levite, a priest, and as such he had the responsibility of representing the nation before God and representing God to the nation. This was the crucial role of the priest before the New Testament and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church at Pentecost in Acts 2. As we know from 1 Peter 2:9, all believers are priests and are called to be Christ’s ambassadors in our various spheres of life.

As priests we are called to intercede for our family and extended community. How well are you fulfilling your priestly role in your area of influence?

In Exodus 33 we read about the Tent of Meeting that Moses set up outside the camp in order to intercede for the nation. It was also a place where anyone could go and pray to enquire of the Lord (see Exodus 33:7).

The tent was set far outside the camp and Moses would go out to the tent of meeting, as an example of being a leader of prayer (see Exodus 33:8). As Moses entered the tent, the people would all stand in awe and worship God. This is the effect of a leader who prays, it leads those who are watching to worship God.

Prayer is warfare.

The tent was available to all the people, but only those who sought the Lord took advantage of it. Reading between the lines, that probably wasn’t a high percentage. The tent of meeting was far outside the camp, it was not convenient.

 “Every one of us is as close to God as he has chosen to be.” J. Oswald Sanders

Today, many Christians will say that they want a better prayer life, but sadly, they don’t put in the effort. Prayer takes effort. Prayer is hard work. This is not legalism or works based Christianity, but if we want to see things change in our homes and in our society, we must be prepared to put in the effort that is required.

Prayer takes effort. It is warfare. You cannot wage war from the comfort of your mattress, sometimes you must go outside of the camp.

I am not saying God doesn’t answer prayers prayed while you are in bed and wrestling with the issues of life, but there is something powerful when we have a special place to go to pray and meet with God. There is something about a change of venue that shifts our perspective. When you change your location to a place that is set apart for prayer, you are ready to engage in warfare. You are ready to pray.

A little word of encouragement; when you sit down or kneel to pray, leave your phone in another room. In a war, a distracted soldier is a dead soldier. I cannot emphasize this more strongly; your cell phone will spiritually kill you. Sadly, in our culture and in the Body of Christ, there are too many people who are paralyzed by the constant enticement of all forms of media and entertainment that are presented in the palm of our hands. These distractions are all killing people’s ability to function effectively, and sadly in the Church, they are taking people out of the mission that they are called to.

Moses the Intercessor:

As Moses prayed, he set an example for the people to see. A high percentage of leadership is not about what you say, it’s about what people see in your lifestyle and example.

Moses was also an intercessor for the nation. He prayed fervently for the nation. He risked his life for the nation in his boldness before the Lord. Moses stood between the nation’s sin and God (see Numbers 11:1-2).

Every Christian leader should intercede for those they lead.

Moses interceded for the future blessing of the nation. Moses was not content to have seen the deliverance of God in the past, he was not content to have the provision of God for today, he was desperate for the presence of God in the future (see Exodus 33:12-15).

As you lead your family, your community, or your workplace, are you desperate for the presence and the leadership of God?

Are you crying out in dependance on God for the future for those you influence?

It was from his place of intimacy with God, that Moses was able to become the greatest leader in the history of the nation of Israel.

How are you preparing to lead? Commit to leading in prayer.

The Humanity of a Leader

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As we saw last week, everyone is capable of influencing others; everyone is a leader in some capacity (see Matthew 5:13). However, as we all know, every leader is imperfect. Every leader is prone to making rash decisions, communicating poorly, getting angry or frustrated, and making many other mistakes. Every leader is a fallen human needing a savior. 

Leaders should be humble when they fail and grow through their mistakes (see Proverbs 16:18). Leaders who quickly admit and repent to others when they have made a mistake are leaders who will ultimately carry greater influence. Why? Because the primary role of a Christian in leadership is to point people to the only one who can save. Humility is a great place to start (see Numbers 12:3). 

In the book of Numbers Chapter 20 we read about a defining moment in the life of Moses when he made a hasty decision that cost him dearly. 

Falling before God

This event took place in the Israelites’ fortieth year of wandering. The area of Kadesh was a familiar place where they had likely camped several times before. They came back to this place because there was water. It had been a good place to set up camp. But this time, the spring was dry, and they were getting desperate. 

The people began to complain to Moses and Aaron, as they had done many times in the past. But Moses did not respond by trying to argue with them; rather he fell on his face in prayer before the Lord (see Numbers 20:6). 

What a lesson in leadership. Moses didn’t defend himself; he went to the Lord, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 

As Christian leaders, our instinct when we are criticized is to defend ourselves and try to convince our critics that we are doing what the Lord is leading. But the Lord doesn’t need us to defend Him.  Instead, we need to go before Him and allow Him to encourage us and give us the way forward. This is so hard to do in the heat of the moment. 

Falling before the flesh 

The Lord gave Moses instructions to follow in order to bring water from the rock (see Numbers 20:8). God told Moses to take the staff that signifies his authority and to speak to the rock, declaring that the rock must yield its water. 

But Moses was weak and worn out.  In spite, he called the people rebels, drawing attention to his own authority. And instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice. 

Though Moses hadn’t followed the Lord’s instructions, the water began to flow, sufficient for millions of people and their livestock. Despite the seeming success,

Moses failed the Lord, and God disciplined him by not allowing him to progress with the nation into the Promised Land. 

This seems like a very harsh punishment for mere indiscretion, at least in our eyes. We can easily sympathize with Moses. He was old, tired, and frustrated. He had been leading these rebellious people for 40 years, and they kept quarreling with him. On top of it all, he was grieving the recent death of his sister. 

Moses lost his temper (See Psalm 106:32-33). Have you ever lost your temper and done something you regret? I certainly have. 

Failing has consequences

For his act of unbelief and his failure to give God glory in upholding His holiness before the nation, Moses forfeited his right to lead the people into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12). 

We wrestle with this. We want to see Moses getting a pass, but this is an important lesson for us. When we are under stress, overwhelmed, tired, or even grieving, we are not  excused  to sin. Circumstances are no excuse to disobey God (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). 

But what about grace? After all, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, right? 

Not so fast. When we fail to obey God, there are often consequences that we must live with. 

The second century Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, said, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

When it comes to our relationships, for example, we may repent of our offense, but often the tear in the relationship lingers. Moses had to live with the consequence of his failure. We have to live with the consequences of ours.

Failing is not defeat

This is wonderfully encouraging for us. Many characters in the Bible failed but were forgiven and used mightily by God. Take the Apostle Peter as an example. He denied Jesus three times at his crucifixion, but Jesus graciously restored him. Peter went on to be a powerful apostle and church leader. 

When we have  as a leader; been hasty in our response to criticism, gotten angry or irritable, the enemy loves to whisper that we are done and should resign and walk away. But Jesus came to free us from sin, guilt, and the accusation of the enemy (see Psalm 147:3, 1 John 1:9). 

The rock that Moses struck in Numbers 20 is a picture of Christ. Moses was instructed to speak to the rock and do nothing more (see 1 Corinthians 10:4). The reason why Moses was told to speak to the rock and not strike it is because, when it comes to the Gospel message of salvation, there is nothing we need to do to add to the completed work of Christ.

None of us are perfect. In our brokenness, we desperately need a savior. As we are daily faced with our humanity and weakness, we can go to the Rock that is Jesus for living water that refreshes our souls.

Failure is not defeat because the Gospel is true. 

Falling before Jesus

What are you dealing with today? You may be dealing with the consequences of sin, and that is a normal and a painful part of life. But you can be free from the accusation and the guilt of your sin. 

Why not repent right now and allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9)?

Called to Lead

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Leadership is influence”, John Maxwell

Moses was arguably the greatest leader in the Bible aside from Jesus. And when it comes to leadership, we can learn much from Moses. 

As you read the books of Moses, from Exodus to Deuteronomy, there is one phrase that is hard to miss: “And God said to Moses…” This phrase appears well over one hundred times in these four books. 

Humbled by God

By Exodus Chapter 3, Moses was an eighty-year-old man, a murderer, a fugitive, and someone who was content to live out his days as a shepherd. Long forgotten were his days in the halls of power in Pharaoh’s  kingdom. 

Moses had to be humbled by God before God could begin to use him. And that’s when God called him, because God had prepared him. 

As Moses was mundanely tending his sheep, he sawa bush that was on fire. This was probably not unusual in the desert, but we see in verse 3, “And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

This bush was on fire but it was not being consumed.  Moses turned, and that was the moment God had been waiting for, waiting for Moses to pay attention. 

Moses said in verse 3, “I will turn aside to see this great sight…”

There is value in turning aside to observe when God is doing something. God is speaking all the time in the little things; we just have to learn to stop and look (see Psalm 19:1-2).

“When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4)

When God calls you, how do you respond? “Here I am”? Or do you look over your shoulder to see if God is calling someone else?

God warned Moses to stop before coming too close and to take off his sandals (see Exodus 3:5). 

Moses was humbled to bow  before God. This is the true beginning of Christian service. Servants who know how to take off their shoes in humility can be used by God to walk in power.

Seen by God

The Lord then spoke to Moses, “Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.” (Exodus 3:7)

It is so encouraging to know that God sees the suffering of His people (see Exodus 2:25). 

God sees all those times when you feel that your work and struggles go unseen. Your Heavenly Father sees. Nothing is outside of the sight of God; this is a promise you can be sure of. 

Called by God

God called Moses to an impossible task, to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. The task was too big for Moses, and he was understandably resistant. 

God is seldom going to call you to do something that you can do in your own strength. His aim is to display  His glory through the humble obedience of people. In verse 8, God said that He would deliver the nation out of the hand of the Egyptians. God was inviting Moses to be a part of what He was about to do. 

We must never believe that God needs us; he invites us to be a part of what He already plans to do.

Backed by God 

Moses began to resist God’s call, and God gave him that incredible Bible promise, “But I will be with you…” The power of the Almighty God is always sufficient for anything that He calls us to do. 

Moses asked God in verse 13, “What is your name?” This question led to the most powerful revelation of God in the Bible up to this point. “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)

From this time onward God was known by this statement, “I am Yahweh”. A name that means so much and is so holy that most Hebrew people would be afraid to even whisper it.   

God said to Moses—and He says to us—“I am wherever you are, and I always will be”. 

What a promise for Moses as he considered the call of God on his life! This promise applies to all Christians. Every person who has given their life to the Lordship of Jesus has a mission and a calling. It may be to your workplace, your neighborhood, childcare ministry, youth ministry, across the states or to another nation. God’s name is Yahweh, I AM with you. 

Moses kept on making excuses, denying the call of God. Have you ever made excuses when God calls you? We say things like, I am too old, I am poor, I am uneducated, I don’t speak well, I am too shy, I am too sickly, I am…, I am…, I am….

Notice how we focus on ourselves when we make excuses, and God emphatically responds, I AM WHO I am

As we observe society around us and in the church, there is a general spirit of apathy that is having a dramatic impact on our culture. Maybe God is calling you today to put down the phone, put down the remote, and begin serving the Lord, leading and influencing the people He is calling you to. 

We need to repent of the excuses and submit ourselves to the perfect plan of God for our lives. 

What is God calling you to do today?

You are Invited

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This past Friday our small team arrived home from Morehouse, MO. Where we served the local First Baptist church and the pastor Jason Crow.

Jason is a bi-vocational pastor who is married to Amber. They have six children, some adopted and two special needs children. His life is full and challenging.

The church is struggling. Half of the congregation did not return after COVID and now they barely have thirty people in attendance.

The primary mission was to engage with the community and to see how the church could be better connected. The town of a little over 900 people was easy to get around, and very quiet. There is only one store and not much else going on. It seems the “porch-sitting” is the favorite pastime. There is a spirit of apathy that envelopes the town with little room for ambition.

We were saddened to learn that one of the local churches was responsible for a good number of the towns folk never wanting to attend church again. They had been hurt by something that was being taught or modelled by this particular church in town.

One of those hurt was a young lady we met. She claimed to know all about the Bible and the Gospel message, but that she was now a pagan and that she worshipped “deities”. I told her that she was worshipping demons and that they would surely be a bitter disappointment for her. She bluntly told me that she knew that she was going to hell, but that it didn’t bother her. In fact, she said she was okay with it.

In fact, we had interactions with two separate people who acknowledged that they were going to hell but were not worried at all about that eternal destination. Satan and his demons have deceived people into believing that Hell will be an acceptable alternative to heaven.

But that is not what Jesus said about Hell. Jesus said it was a place of eternal punishment and suffering (see Matthew 13:41-42, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 25:41-46, Mark 9:43).

This is why we go and tell people about what Jesus has done for them. This is why we proclaim the Gospel message. Hell is real, but we are created to know and live eternally with our Creator. Jesus made the only way for salvation. Sadly, this young woman even acknowledged that.

As I was thinking about the town and what has caused the churches to become so poorly attended and why the people seem to have such utter hopelessness, I was reminded of Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

There are possibly many different reasons why churches decline and eventually close, but I believe that not prioritizing the regular gathering together as the Body of Christ must be high on the list.

Being a regular part of a church family is not an optional extra for a Christian, it is life and breath. Sunday is when we worship, pray, and hear the Word of God proclaimed to build us up and challenge us.

During the week, we gather in different settings to encourage one another, to grow together in love and unity. These could be life groups, Sunday school, prayer meetings or different church events.

Summer seems to be a time when people miss church attendance the most, but I challenge you to commit to getting more involved in our church family this summer. The reason I encourage you to get more involved is found in verse 24 of our text, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

Notice that it is the responsibility of the church family to stir up the body of Christ, this is not the role of the Elders, Deacons or other leaders, it is everyone’s responsibility.

Who did you encourage today? Who did you stir up today?

2020-2021 caused many churches to close, because people neglected to meet together, people stopped encouraging one another.

The writer to the Hebrews uses the word “Habit”. The Dictionary explains habit as, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

Life is about habits, we all develop them, some are good for us and others are destructive. Being active in a church family is a good habit that is guaranteed to bring life.  

Commit to being an encourager, stirring one another on towards love and good works.

What is God inviting you to be a part of today?

All About Honor

This is a very challenging passage. How do we respond to our leaders when they promote immoral things and even use our tax dollars to pay for things that we don’t approve of?

As Christians who stand for the truth of God’s word, we must not be surprised by the resistance and even persecution from the world around us.

In 1 Peter, the apostle is writing to exiled Jewish Christians who were facing persecution, ridicule and abuse for their faith. Peter instructs his readers to submit to the authorities of the land. These people probably felt that their opinion counted for little in a hostile society. This may sound familiar to Christians in America in 2024.

When we feel that the societal norms are opposing our Christian beliefs, we are tempted to respond in one of three ways.

1: We fight. We write angry letters, we grumble, and post angrily on social media. If we are honest, we see the public figure, the politician as the ultimate enemy. We fight back, because we are so invested in our world and our constitutional rights. We fight because we forget that as a Christian, we are part of an everlasting Kingdom, one that will outlast every earthly kingdom.

2: We flee. We find a Christian community that accepts us and then we circle the wagons, close the doors and quarantine ourselves from anyone and everyone who does not believe as we do. We spend all our time within a bubble that ensures we are never tainted by the world out there. But that is not what Jesus has called us to, how can we share the Gospel or be the Salt and Light in our world, if we are hiding from the world?

3: We conform. We don’t like to be the odd one out, we don’t like being exiles and as a result we adapt, we modify our behavior, and we conform to fit in. But as followers of Jesus, sometimes we try to conform, even when we know it is not God’s will for us.

We minimize the call to holiness in order to fit in.  

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream

Malcolm Muggeridge

However, instead of fighting, fleeing or conforming, we are called to engage with society and be good citizens who follow the laws of the land to avoid legitimate punishment. (See 1 Peter 2:13-14). This is for the Lord’s sake, and in verse 15 we read that it is God’s will for us.

God chooses to reveal himself to those who reject Christianity, through us doing His will, and that is being subject to those who are in leadership in society. We are called to walk in humility and serve our society (See 1 Peter 2:16).

Then we come to verse 17, this is where the conviction and challenge really hits home. “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

As believers, we are to honor everyone, even the ruler of the land. Notice that we honor the emperor, but we fear God.

Honoring everyone seems a far fetched ideal in our world, but we are called by God to do it. We live in an age where people say the most dishonoring things online, claiming that they have a right to speak their mind. But for a Christian, this is not permitted.

Honoring is not agreeing, you can disagree and still honor the person at the same time.

Honor our political leaders:

Surely the Bible isn’t talking about America in 2024? The truth is that Peter’s readers faced a government that was cruel and murderous towards Christians under emperor Nero.

We are called to perform our civic duties and pray for our leaders.

Now we must remember that if the government makes laws that defy God’s Word and His standards, then we are required to honor the government, but fear God. And this will require us to take a stand for Biblical truth (See Acts 4:19-20).

Throughout history, thousands of Christians have respectfully and peacefully spoken out against various issues, whether it was slavery, the fight for the unborn, child labor, poverty, and so much more. Christians are called to honor everyone, but fear God.

Honor your Boss:

In the following verses, Peter addresses how slaves were to respond to their masters. During the first century, many of the readers were slaves or indentured servants, people who were bound by contract to their master.

We cannot fully equate these words into our context here in Kansas City in 2024, but the principles of how we are to relate to our boss or supervisor are similar.

Many supervisors are kind and fair, but other times they are people of poor character who belittle and verbally abuse their employees.

So how do we respond? We join in with the gossip at the proverbial watercooler, maybe we don’t give our best effort or even look for ways to discredit our supervisor.

But the Bible says we must not repay evil for evil. We must commit to working with excellence.

Now, this does not excuse the supervisor or boss who is doing something illegal or abusive. In this case, we are required to report him or her to the authorities.

But how do we respond to demanding and unfair bosses? The Bible calls us to submit to their authority and commit to doing good.

As Peter is writing these words it is almost as if he hears the grumbling and the murmuring; “you don’t know my master”, “you don’t know my situation”, and our personal favorite, “but what about my rights!”

Peter immediately turns to the example we have in Jesus (See 1 Peter 2:21).

These are difficult words, humanly speaking it is impossible. We cannot do this in our own strength, this kind of lifestyle is only possible when empowered by the Holy Spirit.

As Christians we must always have an eternal and a supernatural perspective. And when we live this way, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength and the grace to endure, to honor and to love.

Jesus is our example (See 1 Peter 2:22-24). Jesus knows exactly how challenging this is for us, that is why he sent us the Holy Spirit to empower our day to day lives.

This is where we must take our Christianity and apply it to the real world. The world we live in. The practical day to day.

So, what are you facing today? Give that situation to the Lord and allow Him to lead you in how to respond with honor and grace.

Can I get a Witness?

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There is power in personal testimony.

Doctrine and theology are extremely important, but people are drawn to the reality of God’s supernatural activity in the world (see 1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

This past Sunday we remembered the Lord’s supper as a testimony, we heard a powerful testimony of healing, and we witnessed someone testifying to their salvation in the waters of baptism.

In 1 Peter, the Apostle is writing to Jewish Christians who have been exiled from Israel. They are strangers in a foreign land but living for Christ.

As we have seen throughout this series, we too are sojourners, exiles in this land. As followers of Jesus, this world is not our home our citizenship is in heaven.

But the greater reality is that we as believers in the world are a holy nation (See 1 Peter 2:9), and this is not our home. But while we are here, we have a responsibility, we are called to testify about Jesus.


These verses are part of the central theme of this letter; submission in the life of the believer. In the Greek, submission is a military term for being placed under the control of another person. To be under authority.

In the remaining verses of the chapter, the Apostle Peter writes about submission to the rulers of the land.  

Submission, is often misunderstood to be a form of slavery, but rather it is simply recognizing God’s authority over our lives and the way that He has ordained leadership to work in the home, the church and in government.

God calls us to exercise the authority the He has given us within our domain. However, before we can exercise authority, we need to be under authority.

When Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he promised them freedom and power, but as a result of their sin, they lost their authority.

Sin in your life will always lead to slavery. You will become a slave to the sin that you entertain in your life.

This is so clear when it comes to addictions, but every sin subjects us to slavery; whether it be gossip, envy, slander, stealing, covetousness, or any sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.  Any sin that we entertain in our lives will subject us to slavery.

Spiritual Warfare:

We need to remember that we are in a spiritual battle (see Ephesians 6:12). The Apostle Peter writes in the second part of verse 11, “…abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

There are sinful desires that wage war against us all the time. Our real battle is not against other people, unsaved or unregenerate people. Your battle is not against that liberal neighbor, or that abusive boss. They are simply acting in the way that unsaved people do, it shouldn’t surprise us. Our real struggle is the battle for our own passions within us.

D.L. Moody said, “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I know.”

As we give in to temptation, we become ineffective in our witness. We submit to another authority and our testimony will become weak.

Peter writes in verse 12 that as believers we are constantly on display. Even if you don’t aspire to lead a ministry or speak on stage, the world is watching you.

Satan loves to point to believers and highlight sin in their lives. It comes with being in the middle of a cosmic war. We must always be on our guard. There are a host of people watching us and evaluating the truth of the Gospel through what they see in us.

There should be nothing in our conduct that will give the enemy ammunition to attack the Body of Christ (see Matthew 5:16).

Your Testimony:

Peter wrote in verse 12 “…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

There are thousands of decisions that we make every day, that can be a witness to our character and lead to a conversation about the Gospel. As we make ourselves available to the Lord, these opportunities will present themselves regularly.

Peter ends verse 12 with this phrase, “…they will glorify God on the day of visitation”.

I believe that Peter is saying, the “day of visitation,” is the day of salvation. The day that God the Holy Spirit, visits them and saves them by His grace. That is the day that they will glorify God for your witness and testimony.

How are you displaying Christ through your life? What would your business associates, your clients, your coworkers, your fellow students or family members say?

We are constantly proclaiming Christ, if we have testified to his saving power in our lives.

Are you aware that your life is a living testimony?  

Do You Know Who You Are?

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Identity is a complex thing. We identify ourselves by many different criteria, none of which fully explains who we are. If you are a Christian, you have an identity that is supremely more important than any other title or identifier. 

As we saw in 1 Peter 2:1-3, these new believers were maturing through suffering. Suffering can produce spiritual maturity which in turn leads to a greater understanding of identity. 

For example, a baby born into the British royal family has no idea of their identity. Everyone around them knows their identity, but as an infant, they don’t. As the child grows and matures, they become aware of the fact that they are royalty, and they begin to understand the privileges and responsibilities that come with that. In the same way, maturing believers grow in the understanding of their identity in Christ. 

Living Stones

In verse 4, Peter begins by stating that Jesus is a living stone who was rejected by men but chosen and precious in the sight of God. 

Jesus is the foundation stone of the church today. Any church that does not have Jesus and his Word as their foundation is simply not the church (see 1 Corinthians 3:11). 

Peter then turns to his readers in verse 5 and says, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood”, 1 Peter 2:5a.

Every believer is a stone in the Church. The building is not complete; daily it is being added to. The global Church numbers nearly 2.4 billion people, and that number is growing rapidly in the developing world. Jesus continues to build his church. 

Holy Priests

Not only are believers building stones in God’s Church; they are His priests. In the Old Testament, the Israelite priest functioned as a mediator between God and the people of Israel. The priest represented God to the people and the people to God. This was a huge responsibility reserved only for Israelites from the tribe of Levi. 

Now, under the new covenant, Jesus is our High Priest. He is the ultimate mediator between us and God, and he calls us to be his priests on earth representing our community to God and God to our community. We are Christ’s representatives in our circles of influence.

Spiritual Sacrifices

Verse 5 continues that as priests we have the responsibility to, “…offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

What are these sacrifices? The Bible gives us a few examples. We are called to: 

  • Reject sin and present our bodies as a holy living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)
  • Offer a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15)
  • Give of our finances as a holy sacrifice to God (Philippians 4:18)
  • Practice evangelism as a sacrifice to the glory of God (Romans 15:16)

We must never fall into the trap of thinking that these spiritual sacrifices are a way to earn our salvation. Our salvation has already been obtained for us by Jesus. Offering these spiritual sacrifices is our pleasure and privilege as followers of Jesus because they bring glory to his name and eternal rewards to us. 

Do you believe?

In verse 6, Peter, quoting Isaiah 28:16, writes, “…whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Believing is not simply giving verbal assent to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is important, but true belief affects every aspect of our lives. Our belief informs our decisions. If you say you believe that Jesus is Lord of your life, then your decision making should reflect this.

We will not be put to shame for our belief in the gospel—that is a promise of God’s Word.

But for those who do not believe, the gospel is a stumbling and offense (see 1 Peter 2:7-8). 

Today, Jesus is still rejected because what he taught is inconvenient.  The things Jesus taught about marriage, finances, forgiveness and so much more are a stumbling block in our culture (see Matthew 5-7). If you stand for the Lord Jesus, you will also be a stumbling block. 

Your True Identity

Verse 9 goes on to say, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 

If you have believed in Jesus as Lord, this is your identity:

  1. You are a chosen race: We are chosen by God to take on a new identity as part of His family (see John 15:16).
  2. You are a royal priesthood: We are called by the King of Kings to be his priests here on the earth. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have full access to the throne of God, and we have a great high priest, Jesus, interceding for us. 
  3. You are a holy nation: We are a set apart nation—not “we” as Americans, but “we” as followers of Jesus, all 2.4 billion of us around the world. Our citizenship is in heaven (see Philippians 3:20). 
  4. You are a people for his own possession: How much does God value us? Consider what he paid for our freedom: His own son. You are of infinite value to God because He gave His only son for you. Not because He needs you, but because He chose you and bought you with the price of the precious blood of Jesus.

A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession—that is who you are. That is your identity.

The Joy of Our Identity

In verse 10, Peter tells us why God has done this for us, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

This identity comes with great privilege, great responsibility, and even greater joy. Every citizen of heaven is called to display Christ, to be salt and light in a dark world. We do this by living to glorify God with every facet of our lives, not just our Sunday morning church lives. 

Do you know who you are? Are you maturing in your walk with the Lord and becoming more aware of your true identity?

When Life is Unfair.

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If you have lived for any length of time, you have realized by now that life can be unfair. Sometimes we get attacked, violated, and humiliated, even by those we trusted and befriended. 

Psalm 35 is a prayer of David crying out for vindication and relief from his attackers. 

Maybe you can identify with David today; perhaps you are experiencing injustice right now. How do you respond? How do you pray? 

Psalm 35 shows us three things King David asks for that are helpful in our prayers as we endure unjust suffering. 

1: Fight my battle for me.

David, the giant slayer, warrior and general, is asking God to fight for him. 

Psalm 35:1 says, “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!”

David is experiencing injustice, and he was tired of trying to fight his own battles. He asks God to take over. David realizes that he is going to die unless the Lord fights for him. 

It seems that David is losing the battle; he is exhausted and in fear of death, so he cries out to God to fight for him. Then he declares, “Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” (Psalm 35:3b).

There are times when the battle seems to be never ending. The deliverance we are praying for doesn’t seem to come, but what we don’t know is that it may be right around the corner. 

David is asking for some assurance that God will indeed rescue him. Do you know what it is like to be going through intense trials, and you just need God to say, “I am with you, I am fighting for you”? Just that reassurance will enable you to keep going. 

Have you been a victim of injustice and the person who wronged you seems to have gotten away with it? You are angry and risk becoming bitter. But bitterness won’t only affect you; it will affect those around you. 

There is a saying that goes, “If you don’t heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on those who didn’t cut you.”

What King David is rightly  calling for—and what we call for—was justice! Just simple justice (see Psalm 35:4-6). David wants to see his enemies ashamed and dishonored and all their plans coming to nothing (see Psalm 35:8). 

In those times when we just want the wrong made right, we must remember that Jesus knows what that is like. Jesus said in John 15:25, “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.”

Jesus knows our pain, and he is the one who will fight our battles. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

We can trust the Lord for justice—justice is His! 

2: This is unfair!

It is one thing to be hurt by evil people, sinners who we don’t know, but what about the times when those hurting us are people that we love and respect? Maybe someone you considered a close friend or family member has hurt you (see Psalm 35:11-16). David is being falsely accused by people that he had shown love and care for. 

Being falsely accused should not be unexpected as we walk this life as followers of Jesus. It happened to Jesus and many other followers of Jesus throughout history. Satan will always use the lies of those we trust to hurt us the most. 

As Christians, we expect persecution and lies from people who are not saved. But when it comes from friendly fire, those wounds hurt far more. It is one of Satan’s favorite weapons to discourage us. 

David is simply crying out to God to deal with the unfairness. He is frustrated that the injustice seems to be going unchecked. 

Can you identify with his frustration and his pain today?

3: Make it right so that I may praise you. 

David wants to bring glory and honor to the name of the Lord. David asks God for a powerful testimony, something he can share with others for God’s glory. In Psalm 35:19-27 we see that David takes his hands off the situation and asks God to intervene for him in justice.

Jesus knew that pain throughout his time on the earth; as a result, he can identify with your situation. 

However, we are assured of victory. Evil people can take everything you have, but they will always be unsatisfied, and our Heavenly Father will always see to it that His child gets justice. 

In verses 27 and 28 of the Psalm, we see that David declares the praises of God in spite of his situation. God has heard his prayer and brought him peace, and he is rejoicing in the Lord. 

There is tremendous power in the testimony of God’s children. We need to share those testimonies with those around us and with the church family.  It encourages us and builds up our faith. 

Has God rescued you? Have you told others about it?

Jesus in the Psalm?

Each of these three prayers that David prayed, are very similar to what Jesus must have prayed: 

  • Father, fight my battles for me.
  • Deal with the unfairness that I don’t deserve from the people I love. 
  • Vindicate me that I may bring glory and praise to Your name.

God the Father did that for His son Jesus, and we can be assured that He will do the same for us. 

Jesus did it already in the Gospel. 

  • He fought the Battle that we couldn’t fight over sin and death, and he was victorious. 
  • Jesus took on all the shame and unfairness that Satan could deal out, and he did it for us. 
  • Jesus made the way for us to be made right with God so that we in turn could live for Him and bring glory to His name. 

What is that situation that you need to give to God today for him to fight?

Grow Up

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Christians, like babies, are expected to grow. When one is born again, there is an expectation that the young believer will grow into spiritual maturity. Satan and his demons have many weapons that they use to prevent a new believer from becoming all that God has called them to be. One of these tools is complacency, settling for the status quo and not growing. The terrible truth about complacency in the Christian life is that it leads to atrophy and death.

In 1 Peter 2:1, the Apostle instructs his readers to put off malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. These are all things that hinder growth in our spiritual lives. We are really good at identifying these vices in other people’s lives, but we often excuse them in our own lives.

Let’s look at each one briefly:


Malice means the intent, or the planning to do some harm or evil to someone else. Like any sin, it begins in the mind. Malicious intent comes from festering thoughts. One of the best definitions I read for Malice is “congealed anger”.

Malice leads to Deceit:

This is craftiness or acting with impure motives. Using devious words to get what we want. A classic example of deceit in the Bible is the account of Annanias and Saphira in Acts 5.

Deceit leads to Hypocrisy:

Hypocrisy is pretending to be what we are not. The church is often accused of being filled with hypocrites.

If I claim to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and love my neighbor as myself, but my lifestyle outside of the church does not back that up, I am a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is hiding our true self.

Hypocrisy leads to Envy:

At its root, envy is a lack of faith. It is not trusting that the Lord is good and that what He gives us is sufficient and good for us. Envious people are not able to celebrate with other people when they are blessed.

Ultimately envy leads to Slander:

Finally, the malicious thoughts can no longer be contained, and we begin to verbalize our feelings. Slander is bringing someone down to make yourself look good. Another definition of slander is evil speaking. Most of the time, slanderous people hide their own sin.


The Antidote:

In verse 2, Peter gives the antidote. The reason we act with malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander, is because we are spiritual infants. Verse 2 reads, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”

A baby knows instinctively when they need milk, and where to obtain that milk. Just as babies desire healthy milk, so to, Christians should desire the healthy milk of God’s word.

Sadly, when we harbor these sins, we will be sick, and we will not desire the milk of the word of God. A Christian grows by feeding on the Word. Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and our minds.

When we lose our appetite for the Word we will stop growing.

Sadly, we live in an entertainment culture, driven by video clips and sound bites. People have no appetite or desire to read the word of God, rather they will spend hours watching video clips, even “Christian” videos. There are millions of hours of video content by people who claim to be knowledgeable in the Word of God. We spend hours watching these videos before reading the Word of God for ourselves. But you will not grow on secondhand food, you need to feed on the Word of God for yourself.

As we grow, we find out that the Bible is milk for new believers and also meat for those who have grown in their faith. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”

However, there are many things that hinder our appetite for the Bread of Life. When we consume internet videos, social media, inappropriate movies and the like, content that we know is against the will of God for our lives, it will ruin our appetite for the truth of God’s Word.  

Grow into salvation:

Verse 2 ends with, “That by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

Nutritionists will tell you that you are what you eat, and the purpose of feeding on the Word is to grow in our salvation.

We rightly celebrate when someone is saved. New believers are a thing to celebrate in the church and it excites us, but that is not the end of the journey. Salvation is so much more than a way to avoid hell. We are saved for more.

A real danger in the church is that we don’t challenge people to mature. We are thrilled when people are saved and baptized, but then we give the impression that it is okay to sit on the sidelines and simply be entertained by Christian activity. Sadly, people who sit on the sidelines for too long end up becoming critical and prideful.

Humility comes from realizing our inadequacy. You only really realize your inadequacy when you are stretched to do things for the Lord that you have never done before or struggle to do.

As Christians, we have been saved from death and saved for life, and that eternal life starts the moment you are saved. Being born again must be followed by growth.

Maturing Christians are growing in the Word.  They are peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they promote the unity of the church. Our greatest spiritual growth takes place when we are forced to rely totally on the Lord. As we grow in the Lord, he will lead us into areas of ministry or situations that require us to grow in faith.

You may be called to some area of ministry that you don’t feel equipped to do.  That is good, because none of us should ever think that the Lord needs us because we have something special to contribute that no one else has. That is a sure sign of immaturity.

What is God calling you to do that is will stretch you?