June 23

June 23. I Peter 4:1-11

GRACE LESSONS: I wonder what type of physical pain Peter is referring to in verse 1 of this chapter. If this was the time of Nero—and it was—Christians were literally being burned alive and torn apart by lions. They were enduring searing pain and this had to be heavy on Peter’s mind. At the very start of this section of the letter, we are reminded that Jesus, Son of God, because of His offering of grace to us, felt excruciating physical pain Himself. Jesus did not participate in drunken revelry and all the other immoralities listed in verses 3 and 4. Jesus lived a set apart life, doing His Father’s will and then accepting a torturous death. Peter reminds his followers that God “gets” their pain. He chose to literally put on a human body and feel every bit of the pain Himself.

OUR PASSAGE: The end of the world is near, declares Peter in verse 7. We are always, in every generation, to grasp that. Jesus could return very soon and we are to always be ready for Him. It’s interesting, though, how Peter wants us to prepare. We are to pray. We are to show deep love for each other, forgiving offenses and sharing our food and our homes willingly. We are to use our gifts to serve one another. Then, when He returns, He’ll find us ready for Him living with purpose, our hearts aligned with His!!

My verse: I Peter 4:8 “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

My response: Lord, help me to love deeply. Help me when offended to be able to forgive and to see the hurts another has felt that perhaps led them to hurt me. You are love, my Father God! Fill me full of Your love so it spills out on those around me.

June 22

June 22. I Peter 3:13-22

GRACE LESSONS: Peter can’t seem to write more than a few sentences without returning to the central message of the gospel. In verse 18 of this passage, he reminds those currently suffering for their faith of the sufferings of Christ. “he never sinned,” says Peter, “but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” Oh, the glorious, inexpressible richness of God’s grace toward us!

OUR PASSAGE: This particular passage contains two of the most confusing verses in the entire New Testament. I Peter 3:19-20: “So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.” Did Jesus somehow minister to the spirits of those who died before He came to die on the cross? Were the people of Noah’s day given an after-death opportunity to repent? We know too little from these two verses to say anything with complete confidence. There are two different trains of thought on this. One is that Christ spoke through Noah, back in the day, to those who could have been saved but refused to believe, just as many will refuse to believe, today, though Christ can speak through us. The second train of thought, actually held to by Calvin and Luther, great reformation thinkers, is that Jesus’ spirit, while his body lay dead between death and resurrection, actually helped those people born before His coming to earth understand Who He was, giving them a chance to come to Him. Now, this is a ridiculously brief summary of major theological thought that is to a large degree beyond my grasp. So. If you are interested, friend, dig deeper, using a trusted commentary. Or, just accept it, as I do, as a grand mystery and move on, knowing all that Jesus does is right and good, and that if He did in fact talk to those who died before He was born – YAY. And if He didn’t, that was the right thing to do then. Those are my unsophisticated thoughts on that thorny subject. Perhaps some day God will give me more light there. (My source was Biblehub.com commentaries.)

My verses: I Peter 3:15-16a “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way …”

My response: Help me, Lord, to truly honor You as Lord of my life. When someone asks me about You, help me answer them with gentleness and respect, not demeaning them in any way. Show me how to share my faith so that people are eager to listen and learn and don’t feel shut down! Give me boldness in these darker days to still speak of You.

But What Should I Do?

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God
Micah 6:8 NKJV

I feel very confused these days. Opinions, facts, and statistics rain down relentlessly from social media and news outlets. They don’t agree with each other and sometimes the same news service shares contradictory information just days apart. I want to get it right. How isolated should I stay during this pandemic? How do I best love my black brothers and sisters? How on earth do I sort through politics and politicians when I find reasons to doubt them all? Yeah. If I look at this world and its multiple problems from a human perspective … I’m sunk.

So I turn to God’s unchanging Word for solace and I read and I pray. Join me today and cry out with me to the only One with all the answers.

Oh, Lord God, You have shown us what is good right here in Your Word. Your requirements are clear. Help me to hear You and follow You in this good path outlined in Micah 6:8.

To Do Justly – Lord, You tell us throughout Scripture that You hate injustice. You notice those who are hurt and treated unfairly. Your heart aches when You see abused children, innocent men and women imprisoned, Your own dear ones taunted and rejected for their faith. How many individuals down through the centuries, Lord, have cried out to You for justice? And You see every single one. You note every tear that falls. You see. You care. And You tell me to see and care too. Help me to do justly in my personal dealings with others. Help me to sort through what I read and hold on to what is just and true and right. Help me to speak out when I see injustice, yet with kindness on my tongue, knowing that I too can be prone to self-centeredness in my dealings with others. Forgive me when I have seen injustice and have not been moved. Forgive me when I look the other way when I see the man injured and robbed lying in the ditch instead of being the Samaritan who binds up his wounds. Show me how, Lord, in my little town, with my little strength, to do justly—right where I am.

To Love Mercy – Father God, You tell me to love mercy. Not just like it a little. I am to love mercy, and I am sure that means to be merciful in all my dealings with others. Help me to forgive quickly and to remember how much You have forgiven me. Help me to actively show kindness to the awkward ones, the broken ones, the ignored ones. When it’s in my power to help carry a burden too heavy for another to bear, show me how to help. When I have but little to bring, Lord, help me to bring it anyway. Show me the small ways I can show mercy and kindness to others throughout my days and weeks right where I am. Keep me from revenge and bitterness and malice, Lord. Give me Your agape love for others. Forgive me when I cling to my own rights and look not to the rights of others. Forgive me when I am callous and apathetic about the needs of my neighbors. Help me to care. Help me to act mercifully. Help me to do all that You require. I want to hear You, Lord, and follow Your leading each day.

To Walk Humbly – Lord, as I puzzle out how I can do justly and love mercy in these confusing times, I see so clearly why I need to walk humbly with You, my God. I am not smart enough. That’s the bottom line. I am not clever enough to sort through all that I read and come up with the perfect solution to poverty, immigration, race relations, or COVID-19. I am just little me. But You have shown me what I can do. Forgive me when I choose pride and self-interest above humility. You, Lord Jesus, “did not consider equality something to be grasped, but emptied Yourself” (from Philippians 2:6-7). For us. If You, who are King of kings, could stoop and wash the dirty feet of Your followers, then I should be more than willing to do the humble things. Help me stay close to You, Lord. I need You every day and every hour to prompt my spirit by Your Spirit within in order to know how to act toward others and how to please You. I am so thankful that You offer me forgiveness and mercy! I am so thankful that You will be the final, perfect Judge, and we can entrust ourselves to You.

And so I do, Lord. I give myself to You and ask You to help me to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with You, my God, who deigns to walk with me. Amazing Grace! In Jesus Name, Amen.

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision
To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

 Mission
To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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June 21

June 21. I Peter 3:1-12

GRACE LESSONS: Peter continues to emphasize living a grace-filled life in Chapter 3. When we “give grace” to another, we are bestowing underserved pardon or favor upon them. We don’t make them earn our kindness. It’s really quite radical, isn’t it? Our human nature wants to defend ourselves, retaliate, take revenge, and hurt those who hurt us. The way of grace is much harder, as we live lovingly among the unlovely. Verse 9 is very clear. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”

OUR PASSAGE: Just as slaves were welcomed as full members in the newly formed Christian community, so were women. Peter addresses wives specifically, who—like slaves—had precious few legal rights in that society. They had all the rights and privileges in Christianity, though. Co-heirs with all who believed. Wives and husbands are given similar instructions. They were to honor and respect each other. Wives came under their husband’s authority, but husbands were told to give them honor and reminded that their wives were “equal partner(s) in God’s gift of new life.” In fact, to treat one’s wife with harshness, Peter said, would mean a rift in one’s relationship with God. It would even hinder a man’s prayers. God’s commands to love, respect, and be kind to others applies in marriage too. We are not to demand our own way there, either.

(Side note: Women in our culture DO have the law on their side to report abusiveness by a husband and to leave that kind of relationship. If you are being abused, friend, do seek godly counsel and go somewhere safe. Pray for your husband, but don’t allow him to continue to dishonor himself by his abuse of you or your children. Help him be better by leaving and then seeking help in helping him.)

My verse: I Peter 3:11. “Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.”

My response: Father God, help me to obey these clear instructions. Help me to turn away from every temptation to do evil. Instead, help me to do good to others, treating them gently and with respect. Help me to work to maintain peace in my home and society. Thank You that You bless the peacemakers.

 

 

June 20

June 20. I Peter 2:13-25

GRACE LESSONS: In verses 22-25, Peter recounts the ultimate example of grace given. Jesus never sinned and yet “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (vs 24) Peter has been telling this story now for decades. He’s still obviously amazed by God’s grace shown through Jesus’ sacrifice. May we never ever tire of hearing of it and sharing it with others either.

OUR PASSAGE: Peter is very clear in this passage about Christian behavior in a time of turmoil and sometimes unfair leadership authorities. Our focus should always be the sharing of the gospel. We are to live in such a kind, unusual way, showing love (as Christ did) even when treated unjustly, that people can’t help but see the confident peace we have in serving a higher and perfect Authority who will ultimately make all things right. This goes for all believers at all time. Slaves and free men and women. The fact that Peter addresses slaves is so significant. They might have no standing in society, but they had FULL standing as Christians in the newly formed church. I think that many slaves must have come to Christ based on what Peter wrote here. I love that from the earliest days of Christianity, all people from all walks of life were welcomed to the faith. As Paul put it in Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

My verse: I Peter 2:25 “Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.”

My response: You, Lord, are my Shepherd and the Guardian of my soul. I can rest knowing You guard me like that. No one can snatch me out of Your big hands! How I praise You, great Shepherd!  ( … and how I thank You for Peter, an under-shepherd, who always pointed to You.)

June 19

June 19. I Peter 2:1-12

GRACE LESSONS: I love the way Peter guards God’s flock. It’s clear he cares for them. He uses Old Testament scriptures liberally in this section of his letter, reminding them of how precious they are to God. A chosen people. A royal priesthood. Even when he warns them, he does so in a gracious spirit. “Dear friends,” he says in verse 11, “I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” He pleads with them, for the sake of their souls. He’s a tender under-shepherd wanting the best for his sheep!

OUR PASSAGE: Peter uses a lot of building imagery in today’s passage. He’s literally watching God build Christianity before his eyes. He stresses to his readers the honor of being part of this new structure, Christianity, and shows from Old Testament scripture that the foundation and cornerstone must be Jesus Christ. Let’s build this new faith correctly, says Peter. He also reminds them that they are to evangelize and grow the church more in verse 9b: “As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” We’re watching the structure of our Christian faith being formed in this letter. Amazing.

My verses: I Peter 2:2-3: “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

My response: Oh Lord, make me always hungry for MORE knowledge of You! Help me to “cry out for nourishment” wanting to understand fully the riches of my salvation. And thank you for the amazing kindness You show to all who seek You.

June 18

June 18. I Peter 1:13-25

GRACE LESSONS: When we read verses 18-20 in this passage we are reminded in a new way of God’s grace. Peter uses the word “ransom” to describe what God paid for us. We were slaves. Incapable of freeing ourselves from sin and foolish, destructive behavior. He paid the ransom and bought us our freedom. Charles Swindoll puts it like this: “The idea of a ransom, or the price of redemption, comes from the slave market. The picture it suggests is that we were all in the slave market of sin, lost without Christ … We needed someone to pay the ransom for our souls. Christ did that on the cross with His blood. In doing so, He broke our chains and set us free to serve Him. But in order to enter this freedom, we each have to personally take His gift and accept by faith that His death and resurrection have paid for our sins.”

OUR PASSAGE: I love the mixture in this passage of what we should do and what God has done. We could not save ourselves. We can not live right without His help. But Peter also wants us to “live in reverent fear” of the One who paid such a steep price for us and that means in verse 22 that we “must show sincere love … deeply with all (our) heart(s)." We are saved by grace alone. But there are commands to obey – loving God and others being pre-eminent but also other tasks to accomplish. And by His grace … we shall obey those commands out of our love for Him.

My verse: I Peter 1:13 “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”

My response: I’m fascinated by this command that I prepare my mind for action and exercise self-control. This makes such good sense. Sin starts in the mind. Peter didn’t want these Christians undergoing persecution to go back to old sinful habits. They were to be a holy people. And the way to stay holy is to guard all thoughts in the mind, turning worries and fears and temptations immediately into prayers, not letting any evil take root in the mind and do damage there. Lord, help me to be QUICK to turn from worthless thoughts and to replace them with prayer and worship and desire to please You alone.

June 17

June 17. I Peter 1:1-12

GRACE LESSONS: Right at the beginning of his letter, Peter mentions grace. Did you notice? “May God give you more and more grace and peace,” says Peter in the last part of verse two. What a beautiful prayer for these persecuted believers. He’s asking God to give them more and more of that wondrous grace. I wonder, is it undeserved pardon for them or is He asking God to fill them more and more with grace for others? And then, of course, he also wants them filled with His peace. As Jesus reminded His disciples in John 14:27: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” The peace Peter wants for these suffering Christians is peace of mind and heart right in the midst of troubles. I love this beginning. Peter talks of grace again in verse ten. He refers to our “gracious salvation.” Peter understood and was overwhelmed by grace. We’ll see that word pop up again and again as we read.

OUR PASSAGE: Talking to Christians far from home, living in little enclaves where they’re viewed as strange, Peter still talks of JOY. I love that. He knows they are living in a pivotal moment in history and have been entrusted with the greatest message ever to be given to mankind: rescue from sin and shame and the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. He may be only months away from his martyr’s death, but our Peter is filled with a deep and abiding joy that he was chosen for such a time as that. Wow. That’s a joy that only comes from living closely with God, filled with His Spirit and knowing His presence. I want more of that!

My verse: I Peter 1:8 “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

My response: Father! Inexpressible joy in the midst of dire circumstances because they loved and trusted You. We’ve never been tested like this: homes, property, societal respect all stripped away until all that remains is this great, incredible JOY of knowing You. This is why Peter can celebrate in the midst of trouble. Help me know You more and more, Lord God, the older I get.