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Quotes by Randy Smith


So, why do we serve in the church? One, because we are a spiritual body and each “body” part needs to perform his or her function. Two, we are commanded to serve by the Lord. Three, there will be accountability. Consequences toward those who refuse to use their gifts and rewards toward those who faithful discharge them as a good steward. Four, it is an honor and joy to be used by the Lord to build His eternal kingdom. And five, we want to see our investment in a person or persons to witness their spiritual fruit (Rom 1:13).


It helps me to think of it this way. As a Christian, there are three stages of our salvation. In the past, we were saved from sin’s penalty. In the present, we are saved from sin’s power. And in the future, we will be saved from sin’s presence. Or, in the past – justification. In the present – sanctification. In the future – glorification. Or, we have been saved. We are being saved. And we will be saved.


Let’s remember, we enter with faith and continue to live by faith. We believe the Gospel and live Gospel-centered lives. We are saved by grace and we are continually empowered by His grace. We work, but give God all the glory for His working in us.


Because of our Lord’s exalted status, the day will come when all of creation, beginning at the return of our Lord and throughout eternity, will bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord (see Philippians 2:10-11). Believers will do that willingly and joyfully. All the rest of creation will do it against their will. Bottom line, in the end all will surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation, chapter 5, verses 13-14 declares, “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’”


We must trust the sovereignty of God in all our unfavorable circumstances believing that He has a good plan for us. But we need to do this through a Christ-centered, Gospel-focused perspective knowing that the good that our Lord desires – growing in Christlikeness and making Him known.


We know worry doesn’t change our circumstances. All it accomplishes is disrupted sleep, headaches, difficulty concentrating, nausea, muscle tension, exhaustion, irritability, ulcers and high blood pressure. But most of all, worry expresses no confidence in the sovereignty and promises of God.


What does it mean when we read of Christians needing to “all agree” (1 Cor. 1:10) and be “of the same mind” (Phil. 2:2)? On the lowest level, all of us have personal interests with no spiritual significance. I like to call these “preferences.” Your favorite ice cream flavor. Where you choose to vacation. What you think makes a person attractive. Unless you are an egotistical moron, you respect the phrase, “to each their own.” On the middle level are non-salvific spiritual conclusions on how to live your life. These are the issues where Christians must decide, but often (even within the same church) have different perspectives. I call these “convictions,” or we could say “non-essentials.” Watching movies. How to school your children. Women’s clothing. What to do with Halloween. In these things, we respect another’s freedom (or liberty) in Christ. Then at the top level are the essentials for salvation and church unity. The doctrine of justification by faith. Obeying the Bible. Sharing Christ with others. These are the essentials and it’s in these things and these things alone we have unity – total agreement.


Fellowship is from the Greek word, “koinonia” which literally means “to have something in common.” What comes to mind when you think of fellowship? Is it conversations with other believers, Christian parties, a “fellowship hall” – the name of the room behind the sanctuary? Fellowship in the biblical usage is the verbal exchange of encouragement between two or more believers. It’s taking about trials and how we can be encouraged. It’s talking about blessings and their source in God. It’s talking about special insights from the Word. It’s encouraging a brother or sister in Christ through divine means. Discussing the weather, sports or bodily pains is not biblical fellowship.


Are you holding fast to the Word of life? Are you revealing your desperation for the Bible by making it a priority to read it on a regular basis, both individually and as together as a family? Are you daily seeking to learn something new from the Scriptures? Do you follow what the Bible teaches regardless of the financial, emotional, or relational cost? Do you believe the Bible is sufficient to live a victorious spiritual life? Do you believe the Bible is the voice of God without error? Do you believe the Bible has authority over you? Do you hold fast to the Bible when everything in you during a trial screams at you to rely on your own wisdom?  Do you believe you will have more joy and peace by following Scripture? Do you believe you live in a “crooked and perverse generation” that by necessity demands you hold fast to God’s Word? Are you standing firm in no way overcome by your trials because you are fully relying on the promises of God?


So, what’s so bad about complaining? One – it reveals a thankless heart. How much easier is it to complain about the two things we don’t have as compared to being grateful for the thousands of things we do have? How can we follow the commands to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4) and be thankful for all things (1 Thes. 5:18) if there is a mere morsel of complaining in our hearts? Two – complaining reveals greater sins. Why do we complain? Because we are jealous that someone has what we want. Because we are selfish that things are not going our way. Because we are discontent and unsatisfied in Christ’s sufficiency. And three – complaining distrusts the sovereignty of God. Complaining implies that God made a mistake; that He not ruling the world with perfect justice and wisdom and quite frankly, we could do a better job. That He’s personally unloving and unkind to us. Can we rightly accept the fact that God has a good plan for our lives, or do we complain in believing ours is better and thus cast doubt on our sovereign Creator?


Philippians 2:7 says Jesus “emptied Himself.” Here’s what that does not mean: Jesus did not place Himself in demonic powers nor did He empty Himself of His deity. The latter is commonly referred to as the kenosis theory or kenoticism. It comes out in the second stanza of the popular hymn, “And Can it Be.” “Emptied Himself of all but love.” It is best to think of Christ’s “emptying” Himself as a laying aside of the privileges that were His in heaven. Some like to think of it as what Jesus took on. Taking on humanity forced Jesus to often operate within the limitations of humanity. So, He emptied Himself, verse 7 tells by “taking the form of a bond-servant [“doulos” – slave], and being made in the likeness of men.”


Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). “To be grasped” literally means “to seize, to be carried off by force.” We could say, Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be used for His own advantage. This in no way means Jesus lost His divine attributes. We know He could read minds, walk on water and forgive sins. Yet this verse is teaching us that He chose not to use His divine attributes for His own advantage. Jesus fed others, but He went hungry. He defended others, but He accepted criticism. He delivered others from demons, but He was tempted by the devil. He raised others from the dead, but gave His own life on the cross. Rarely do we see Him reveal the glory that was due His name, especially in a way that worked for His own advantage.


Philippians 2:6 declares Jesus “existed in the form of God.” Although Jesus never lost being God, His form at a point in time did change. Originally, He was in the form of God. He shared the same external features of the Father – commonly identified in the Old Testament as a shining light. He was clothed in garments of diving majesty and splendor. We see a glimpse of this at the Transfiguration. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” This is emphasized because for Jesus (who is entirely glorious) to change in any way demanded a decent in His glory (humility!). Yet the One who existed in the form of God willing traded it for the “form of a slave” (Phil. 2:7). He left His glorious form for the ignoble form of man.


We know our sin brings personal consequences, but let’s remember it also affects others. You are part of a body. You sin, others in the church are hurt. Yet most of all, it affects how other people think about Christ. The stakes cannot be higher regarding the need for your personal moral integrity. Our entire life must be seen in the light of the Gospel’s proclamation through Christlike personal transformation. 


Only the Gospel can take people that are externally diverse and internally bent on serving themselves and living according to their sinful desires and make them value the lives of others and then to contribute to healthy relationships in a unified church. And when we act this way, there is a power of Gospel presence and a purpose of Gospel attractiveness.


Being unified in a church means: We know the difference between enjoying our small group, but understanding that the church is one – not separated along the lines of many small groups. Between having personal priorities within the church, but not losing the one core overarching mission of the church. Between respecting politics, but not making the church political. Between having good friends, but not forming alliances in the church to the exclusion of others. Between having differing beliefs, but honoring the church’s doctrinal statement.  Between having personal convictions, but not legalistically pressing them upon others. That’s how we stand together as one for the Gospel.


Consider those sharing the Gospel. Anyone who believes the validity of this message, has been transformed by this message, seeks to be obedient to God by declaring the message, loves people enough to proclaim this message and willingly receives persecution for sharing this message, shows that he or she has truly received “salvation” (see Philippians 1:28).


Suffering has a way to refine our faith, prove to others our faith is genuine and prove to ourselves that even our lives are less valuable than the worthiness of Christ. When we contemplate our immeasurable riches in Christ, nothing God calls us to can really be considered a sacrifice.


Grateful hearts will always find an outlet to express their gratitude. Grateful hearts among believers, will find that outlet primarily fulfilled in their prayers to God – the sovereign giver of all good things.


The work of the Holy Spirit in John 3 is applied to the wind (the same word as spirit). From a human perspective, the wind has a point of origin and a destination that is unknown, yet we know the wind is present based upon the effects it leaves behind. Likewise, we are totally at the mercy of the free and sovereign will of God. Just as the wind is invisible and unpredictable and uncontrollable, God’s Spirit is moving among human beings, regenerating their hearts, and enabling them to willingly trust Christ for salvation. And when people do trust Christ, there will be evidence of His presence.


So, we all sin. How do we know when we sin? Usually in one of four ways. Right after we violate a known command. A biblical rebuke from a fellow believer. After we read our Bible and discover something we have been doing is wrong. Or during prayer as we desire the Lord to search our hearts and reveal any sinful way within us. This is the ongoing biblical process of “self-examination.”


The modern tactics to combat racism with more racism is an idol posing as God. Technically, it’s a new religion brought to us from zealous evangelists. Converts are brought to its side by fear and intimidation. Rational debate, examination of the beliefs or verification of the narrative is not tolerated as this religion demands blind faith. And the heretics of this new religion are those who do not agree wholeheartedly with its dogma. The yoke is heavy and its burden impossible to bear. You might surrender today, but more will be demanded of you tomorrow. Your profession will never be remorseful enough. Your financial offerings never large enough. There is nothing you can do to appease the wrath of this god. Most frightening, your greatest sin is your unchangeable skin color. Therefore, there is no opportunity to repent. Hence no forgiveness and no grace. You live the rest of your life in perpetual guilt with no lasting atonement. The god of this religion has condemned you for the race you didn’t ask for, the motives you’ve never imagined and the sins you never committed. Those are your original sins. There is no hope, but you still must bow to the demands or face the eternal wrath of being labeled a racist (some content adapted from Voddie Baucham).


Racism is real. It’s existed in the world and will to some degree, if there are people, always be present in society. Its root is in pride, the superiority of self and is manifested in the sins of anger, envy and hate. It’s really a bizarre sin to hate someone because of their skin color. We need to start with God. Obvious God created and sees skin tone, but His primary concern is the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” To reduce life to skin color, not only diminishes the primacy of character, but also negates God’s universal love for all mankind that all are created equal in His image. Racism is superficial, hateful, prideful, self-defeating and godless.


The more I grow in godliness is the more I will understand God’s love. And the more I understand God’s love the more I will be able to discern (Phil. 1:9-10). Discernment is telling the difference not between what is right and wrong, but what is good and what is excellent.


True love is God’s character and the reflection of that as it is revealed in Scripture. Who He is and what He loves is the definition of love. If God is indeed the embodiment of all true love and truth and goodness and we are His created beings made in His image to reflect His glory, it makes absolutely no sense – it’s blasphemous and self-destructive behavior – to imply we know better than Him when it comes to love.


Love is not just emotional. Biblical love starts and continually involves the mind. The affections are merely the expression of the love. Jeremiah tells us the heart is desperately sick. If we let our affections direct our love, we’ll be no different than the world – falling in and out of love. Biblical love is also a self-sacrificial action that puts the needs of others above ourselves. Affections will never get you to that level. Additionally, biblical love only loves what God loves. Again, mere affections will never rise to that level.


Does “love win? Absolutely! A redemptive plan was set in motion immediately after man fell into sin – love wins. When all hope was lost, Jesus rose from the dead – love wins. God will complete the good work He began in His people – love wins! When the Lord returns, every knee will bow to King Jesus – love wins. We know that despite the evil in this world, true goodness will prevail, because God will always prevail – love wins! Love wins, because God who is the definition of love always wins!


God sanctifies us though our trials. It’s been said, the same boiling water will soften a potato, but harden an egg. Trials don’t naturally shape our hearts, but our response to them will make us either bitter or better. What is the Gospel-centered response to trials? To live the crucified life with our Savior. Growing in humility. Becoming less and He becomes greater in us. It’s making a name for Jesus and not ourselves. It’s finding greater identity with Him. In Philippians 3:10 Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”


If we as a church are not unified in Spirit-driven Gospel ministry, there is nothing strong enough to hold this flawed and diverse group of people together as one.


Biblical love is one that is first deliberate and modeled after God’s love. It starts in the mind, but it is not stoic. It’s personal, passionate and practiced, flowing from the heart as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.


It was God who chose you from the foundation of the world. He sent Christ to die for your sins. At the appointed time He regenerated your heart and called you to Himself through the preaching of the gospel. He justified you. He is in the process of sanctifying you. And one day you will be fully glorified. No true Christian can lose his or her salvation. It’s an immutable unbreakable chain (Romans 8:29-30; also see John 6:37, 39; 10:27-28; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:6).


Here are a few key principles for good Bible interpretation: 1. Read within the context. What is the context of the immediate verse in relation to the paragraph and the book as a whole? 2. Seek to determine what the author intended to convey to his original audience. What was his purpose in writing? Who were his recipients? 3. Interpret literally unless grammatically called to do so otherwise. 4. Interpret in line with the history and culture of the author’s day. 5. Compare Scripture with Scripture. Cross-reference starting with the book, author, testament and Bible. 6. Use commentaries to check your work.


So, how can you “hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Pet. 3:12)?” Share your faith so the fullness of God’s people will come to salvation. Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” And pray – “Come [quickly], Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) and “Your kingdom come” (Mat. 6:10).


There will be a dramatic end of the world and it will not be caused by human beings. As a matter of fact, they think too small. It will be the fullest of global warming. The fullest of an all-out nuclear war. Everything will be destroyed with intense fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12). And based on what we know, why is this so hard to fathom? After all, God made the sun and it sits at a toasty 10 thousand degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at the core. I’d says God can easily create “intense heat (2 Pet. 3:10, 12).”


Jesus is not indifferent, unconcerned or unable to fulfill His promise. He knows after He returns there will be no opportunity for salvation. His so-called delay “as some count slowness” (2 Pet. 3:9) is a token of His mercy – giving people just a little more time to repent and trust Him. Jesus is being patient for His enemies to come to repentance. It was the same before His judgment with water. “When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). God is always looking to show mercy to the guilty (cf. Eze. 33:11).


Headship in a marriage works when both a husband and wife love Jesus, want to show Gospel and are both walking in the Spirit. Together they ultimately want the Lord’s glory. Together they discuss everything. The husband should never need to demand the wife to submit. They are a team. They have a shared vision for the family. When a certain spiritual direction is needed, the husband provides the leadership. But that decision is not implemented until they both have time to talk and pray through the issue. Together they may seek wise counsel. Perhaps the wife will give a new perspective to the husband. This is what teamwork is all about. This is the meaning of “one flesh.” If we both have the Holy Spirit, why would the Spirit guide us in two different directions? Yet only when all these avenues have been exhausted and the husband feels a certain direction is necessary for the family, then does the wife need to support her husband’s decision. Realizing it is the husband, not her that stands accountable before God.


Specifically, how does a wife submit? She does so by trusting God’s good commandments. By being thankful God’s accountability is not on her. By understanding that someone needs to be in charge of any institution. She does it with joy, like the church submits to Christ, without nagging and with respect. Wives, to agree with your husband’s leadership is wonderful, but that is not submitting. What do you do when you do not agree? And what is your attitude? Is it resentful compliance or is it encouraging your husband’s desire to spiritually lead the family? Remember the curse of the fall from Genesis 3? “Your desire will be for your husband.” Even as a Christian, wives, you are continually tempted to usurp your husband’s authority. Be aware of that and fight against it.


Why is the wife in marriage required to be the one who submits (Eph. 5, Col. 3, Tit. 2, 1 Pet. 3)? Because God set it up this way, based on the order of creation (1 Timothy 2) and ultimately to show the primary purpose on marriage. Marriage is to be a visual picture of the Gospel. Sex before marriage is wrong because we do not have intimacy with Christ until covenant. Adultery is wrong because we are to be entirely devoted to Christ and not other idols. Divorce is wrong because God would never leave us nor would we ever want to leave Him. We are one flesh in marriage to show the oneness we have with Christ – Him in us, us in Him. We leave our parents and cleave to our spouse to show how we leave the world and cleave to Christ. Marriage is between one man and one woman to show the marriage between Christ and His bride. And we have God designed roles in marriage whereby the husband would show Christ by leading through example and sacrificial love and the wife would show the bride of Christ (the church) by trusting her husband’s spiritual leadership for her well-being. After a lengthy discourse on the marital roles, Paul in Ephesians 5 makes the point clear in verse 32. “This mystery is great [marriage]; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. It’s all Gospel-centered.


Submission in marriage is not a bad thing. The entire principle is based on God the Son’s submission to God the Father. Consider 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman [his wife], and God is the head of Christ.” Submission does not imply inferiority. The Son in not “less God” than the Father. We are not talking about essence, but role or function. And regarding essence, the Scripture is clear that women have the same value and worth as men. They are equally saved and loved by God. They are, verse 7, “Fellow heir[s] of the grace of life.” Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”


Genesis 3:6 tells us that after Eve was tempted by the serpent that “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Both were guilty, but I’d say the fall was primary Eve’s fault. But who did God blame? According to verse 9, “Then the LORD God called to the man.” Adam was held responsible. The fall is not known as “Eve’s Sin”, but throughout the Bible as “Adam’s sin.” And Jesus came to be the “second Adam” to fix the mess that the “first Adam” created. God expects the man to provide leadership.


Our relationship with God is based entirely on grace. If we needed to merit all our blessings, God would simply be giving us what we are owed. In a sense, we would not be debtors to Him, but rather He would be a debtor to us. However, we must not jettison other biblical principles that say Christians can forfeit or add to their blessings based upon the spiritual fruit that He produces in our lives. The Bible teaches this very principle regarding “sowing and reaping” and eternal rewards.


Though judgment applies in all these cases, it’s one thing for people with very little knowledge of Jesus to reject the Savior. it’s quite another for people that grow up in Christian family and are heavily exposed to the truth. It’s even quite another for someone to profess faith in Christ, appear to walk with Jesus and then give the Lord a vote of no confidence. And it’s even quite another to do all the above and then intentionally lead other Christians astray by false teaching (see Heb. 6:4-6, 10:26-27; 2 Pet. 2: 20-22).


Mockers are spoken of negatively often in Proverbs. According to that book, they delight in their scoffing and any interest in correcting them only results in dishonor because they refuse to listen to rebukes. A mocker goes beyond disagreement with the Word of God. They ridicule it and those who follow it. They have no desire for honest debate. No desire to have their opinions changed. They are arrogant, sarcastic and pompous. They are filled with pride, derision and contempt. That is why Psalm 1 says the wise individual should not “sit in the seat of scoffers, but [rather] delight…in the law of the LORD, and in His law…meditates day and night.”


The Bible is God’s Word, God’s manual for living a successful life. A wise person learns it, remembers it and lives by it. It’s been said, “People more frequently need to be reminded than informed.” And a wise teacher and wise parent doesn’t always have to say something new. They have no problem repeating the essential truths by way of reminder (see 2 Pet. 1:12-13, 15; 3:1-2).


Persecution for being an obnoxious, pompous, sarcastic, self-righteous, argumentative Christian jerk is not suffering for righteousness.


Elders “[lord] it over those allotted to [their] charge” (1 Pet. 5:3) when they think the church is there to serve them, place demands on the church that are unprofitable, desire personal fame and glory from the ministry, add or subtract from Scripture making their word more important, dominate others through power and intimidation, sinfully use the church, have a haughty demand for compliance or drive the church versus leading the church.


Sheep are defenseless, liable to stray, pitiful when lost, scattered, stubborn and unintelligent. Clearly, they are desperate for a shepherd. They are dependent on someone to feed protect and lead them to safe green pastures. In the Bible the church leader is called a pastor, a shepherd. The transfer is applicable. It is His charge to “shepherd the flock of God among you (1 Peter 5:2). That means he must feed them on the nutrients of God’s Word, protect them from false teachers (spiritual wolves), warn them about potential dangers, lead them to the fields of holiness and grace and correct them when they stray. Ultimately, Jesus Christ does this through them.


When it comes to elders, they are referred to by three different names. These are not three different offices, but one office with three interchangeable names that indicates their position or role. Elder – speaks to a man’s spiritual maturity. Shepherd or Pastor – speaks to man’s role in caring for the church. Overseer or Bishop – speaks to a man’s role in managing the church.  A good example is Acts 20:28: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The same could be said of 1 Peter 5. Verse 1 – “I exhort the elders.” Verse 2 – “Shepherd the flock.” Verse 2 – “exercising oversight.”


2 Peter 1:21 says, “Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The Greek word for “moved” is “phero.” It’s a verb that is translated “bring, carry or bear.” It’s the same word that used twice in Acts 27 –Paul’s famous voyage to Rome – of the ship that was at the mercy of the breeze being caried by the wind. It’s origin of the English name, “Christopher.” Christos (Christ) – Phero (Bearing) – Bearing Christ. So, this tells us that the men who wrote Scripture did not have heightened powers or mystical visions or even an ear for God to dictate His word. Rather, they wrote what they knew to be true using their own words, style, experiences and personalities, but as they wrote, the Holy Spirit (pheuma-the same Greek word used in the Bible for wind) was bearing them along. Therefore, when they wrote they wrote the very Word of God.


Jesus said false teachers will be known by their “fruits” (Mt. 7). According to Scripture, the two most noticeable fruits will be character and doctrine (see 2 Peter 2:1-2).


People without Christ need to realize they will face three stages of God’s judgment. Most dreaded is the final and eternal stage of judgement when they are sentenced to hell after the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15). Then there is the “intermediate stage” between an unbeliever’s death and the final sentencing. This is often called Hades, a holding tank with no opportunity to escape (Lk. 16: 26) that involves suffering (Lk. 16:23-24; 2 Pet. 2:9b). Yet right now, before death, they are also presently under the judgement of God. John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”


How can we spot a false teacher? Peter in the first two chapters of his second epistle provides a good comparison between true believers (chapter 1) and false teachers (chapter 2). We live in the light of God’s Word (1:19). They “secretly introduce destructive heresies” (2:1). We grow in the knowledge of our “Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). They “deny the Master who bought them” (2:1). We are “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4), manifesting mortal excellence, self-control, perseverance and love (1:5-7). They manifest the deeds of sensuality and greed (2:2-3). We follow the prophetic Word (1:19-21). They follow “false words” (2:3). We are promised eternal life abundantly supplied to us (1:11). They are promised judgment and swift destruction (2:2-3).


“So that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” When we serve in this manner, God is glorified from the beginning to the end. He saved us. He gives us the spiritual gift. He motivates us to use it. He gives us the right spiritual heart to love others. He gives us the right words to say. He gives us the necessary strength. He brings the desired results. He receives all the glory. We can take no credit for ourselves.


Love considers how in advance I can build someone up. Love creatively and aggressively meets another’s need. Love thinks less of self and more of others. Love grieves when others suffer. Love put the church over personal interests. Love models devoted Christian living to be an example to others. Love desires God’s people to have strong relationships with Christ.


What’s humility? Humility is the repentance of pride. Humility is considering God and others better than yourself. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. Humility is rightly understanding our position in life before an awesome God.


To be prideful is to claim war against God in an effort to fight against His character and purposes.


What are some characteristics of pride? Thinking more of myself than I do of God. Believing I am better than others. Not being willing to admit weaknesses. Being unteachable. Inability to delegate. Having a primary goal of serving myself. Wanting to lead to receive personal glory. Needing to always be honored and appreciated. Overconfidence. Unsubmissiveness. Worry. Unwillingness to be corrected. Not asking for help. Continually correcting others.  Ignoring the spiritual disciplines of prayer, church and Bible. Feeling morally superior to others. Talking more than listening. Refusing to ask for forgiveness. Being overly sensitive.


Trials lead to weakness which leads to humility with leads to greater dependence on God which leads to strength (2 Cor. 12:9-10).


Understand the richer blessings of eternal glory, then remember your temporary suffering in this fallen world is beyond comparison (Rom. 8:18). Eternal hell is the ultimate suffering. For the believer in Christ, your lesser suffering will soon end. It is only “for a little while” (1 Pet. 1:6; 5:10). It’s been said, “For the unbeliever, this present world is as good as it gets. Yet for the believer, this present world is as bad as it gets.”


What’s grace? In general, grace is favor bestowed upon those undeserving of it. It’s an unmerited gift. As it flows from God, it’s blessings from the One who can provide and override whatever He desires. It’s forgiveness from all past sins, strength for the present and hope for the future. It’s unending, beyond comprehension, infinite, free, sovereign, sufficient, manifold and grounded in the perfect character of God. Due to the work of Christ, it is continually distributed toward those who love Him. Yes, life is difficult, but for those in Christ, you are a child of “the God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10).


Literally the Greek word (hupomone) means to “remain under the weight.” Perseverance is the ability to press on with Jesus, despite the obstacles that we daily face. It’s being steadfast, goal-oriented and focused. It’s the opposite of backsliding. It’s the marathon runner refusing to quit, take a short-cut or fall off the pace in the test of endurance. It’s finishing strong.


Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s the ability to restrain our sinful passions. It’s being level-headed, patient, temperate, guided more by the Spirit than your flesh. It’s mastery of the head overruling the body. It’s living a focused, disciplined, deliberate life.


What is the purpose of life? Very simple, you will never be satisfied until you enter a relationship with your Creator. Your heart is restless in its pursuit of a god – some “noble” gods (good causes, loved ones) and some bad gods (selfishness, money). But the true God has wired all humanity to find true peace, happiness, hope and identity in Him alone. It’s His built-in safeguard for us to avoid idolatry and second-rate pleasures.


Self-examination does not imply sinless living. Rather it implies Christlike growing. Self-examination is one finger pointing at yourself while you point the other nine toward Jesus Christ. Self-examination happens periodically while spiritual growth happens constantly.


When we initially accepted Christ, we were saved from sin’s penalty. Christ received the full wrath for our sins on Himself. And the day will come when we step into glory that we will be saved from sin’s presence. Yet right now we briefly tarry on earth existing in the tension between the two worlds. God has given us grace to overcome sin and become more like Jesus Christ which shows the life transforming power of the Gospel at work in us. So, we have been saved from sin’s penalty. We are being saved from sin’s power. And we will be saved from sin’s presence.


Are you being persecuted for Jesus Christ? In that context, 1 Peter 4:5 says, “But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” All judgment has been given to the Son (John 5:22) and according to this verse, He is “ready” to bring that judgment. There will be accountability. So, what should we do? We too need to be “ready.” A chapter earlier, Peter told us to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).


Marks of a disciplined Christian: Constantly set and assess goals. Take initiative to do what God desires. Refuse to let the past be a controlling force. Rejoice in the success of others. Be highly focused and motivated. Welcome corrective reproof. Stay true to the way God created you. Have enthusiasm and passion. Avoid complaining. Have a healthy sense of self-confidence and self-discipline.


Christians, when you understand your role as a leader and the value of your wife – balancing the two – you will rightly fulfill God’s expectations. Go wimpy on the leadership part (lack of initiative, masculinity, backbone) and you have become an Adam, Abraham, Ahab or Solomon. Go wimpy on the love and honor part and you’ve become a Nabel or Xerxes. It takes a lot of wisdom to be a godly husband who truly leads and who truly loves. The model is Christ’s leadership of His church. On a human level, my favorite biblical example is Boaz.


Husbands, don’t abuse your God-given authority. Your authority is to serve and love your wife. Don’t overpower or manipulate her emotions. Be sensitive and compassionate. And don’t in any way threaten or touch her to inflict harm simply because you are bigger and stronger. Treat her with the meekness and gentleness of Christ in attitude, action and word.


Where did we ever get this belief that manipulation, arrogance, anger and abrasiveness are effective ways to win people to the Lord? Even if we are persecuted, such an individual is acting in the flesh. Why would we respond in the flesh as well? If we are persecuted for Christ, respond in a way that Christ would respond. Isn’t that common sense. Didn’t our Lord command us to respond to unbelievers with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15)?


God’s love, when it is rightly understood, more than His threats of punishment, has that capacity to melt a rebellious heart into one that delights in joyful obedience.


When things are going well, often our prayers are no deeper than our lips. Yet when in a trial, they often come from the depths of our hearts.


So many are excusing their sin saying they were “born that way.” That’s why we need to heed the words of Jesus Christ and be born again.


From the Book of Acts, we can conclude the following: One, with prayer and in dependence on the Holy Spirit we need to verbally share the Gospel living lives that make the message attractive. Two, we can point people to Christ though the Bible, creation, conscience and personal testimony. Three, we must share Christ and when we do, we must include His work on the cross and resurrection. And four we call people to receive salvation in Christ through their faith and repentance. We share and trust the Lord to open hearts. And when people are truly saved, their lives will testify to the fact as they are filled with the fruit of the Spirt and desire to obey the Lord, seen initially in water baptism. Then they join a local church and participate in the Great Commission, proclaiming the Gospel to others.


When we respond rightly to trials, they actually have the capacity to increase our joy. Through them: God instructs us, we learn to depend on Him more, we experience a greater grace, we are being conformed to the image of Christ and we are learning the contrast with the glories to come.


To be victorious in the Christian life, we must understand the emotional paradox between our trials and our joy. They are both real and they both exist in tension with each other. We must acknowledge our pain. We are permitted to grieve. But through it all, we are found rejoicing in God, knowing that He is in control, using the trial for our good. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”


In 1 Peter 1:6 we read, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” Only in the Christian faith can we speak of joy and distress in the same sentence! You see, if my faith is to be pure faith, it will weather the fiery tested when tried. And how is that faith proven? It keeps trusting God and thus greatly rejoicing, even when experiencing distress.


When we think of sobriety, what naturally comes to mind is not being intoxicated by a substance (often alcohol). Specifically, we are called not to be drunk with alcohol, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Alcohol or any substance has the ability to control us which in turn causes us to lose control. In general, Christians are called to be sober-minded (1 Pet. 1:13). This speaks of the mind regarding anything that leads us into a state of spiritual intoxication. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Christians are called to be temperate, we could say level-headed, biblically evaluating all things, clear-minded, sober in spirit.


Consider the irony. At a certain point in time the One who was creator, would actually become part of His creation. The sustainer of the world would be killed by the hands He was sustaining. The One who was loved by the Father, would be predetermined to be rejected by the Father. The One who knew no sin, would become sin. And the One predestined to die for sinners, would be predestined before there ever was sin. First Peter 1:20, says He “has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” The One who needs nothing, would come to the aid of those who hated Him and purchase a people for Himself.


As a father, I don’t discipline the kinds down the street. I only discipline my own children. I evaluate their actions and correct when they are making unbiblical choices. My discipline is not punitive or vengeful. It’s for correction and I correct them because I love them. And the proof of my fatherhood is seen in whom I discipline. The same is true for God (Hebrews 12:5–10).