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Tag Archives: 1 Peter

  • Are You Ready to Go?

    Posted on April 25, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming." 1 Peter 1:13 (NIV)

    The Whitwer house has two beloved dogs - Kona and Sammie. First thing in the morning, or after being gone, the sight of them makes me smile. But although they both delight me, they are very different.

    Kona is a husky with a quirky personality. She pulls like she's in front of a sled, plays catch with herself and "talks back" when corrected. Sammie is a German shepherd who patrols the backyard perimeter, embraces her role as protector and has a serious personality.

    And while I adore both dogs, only one of them gets to go in car with me each morning when I take the kids to school. Perhaps I should try and describe typical mornings as we gather backpacks, purses and lunch bags:

    • Sammie sits and watches, head tilted, aware of patterns of preparation. Kona is asleep under the bed.

    • Sammie's ears perk up when I grab the car keys. Kona is sprawled on her back, head hanging off the edge of the couch.

    • Sammie watches my face, waiting for the "let's go" nod. Kona is in the backyard watching birds.

    So every morning, Sammie goes on an adventure with me. We pass bikers and women jogging. We see other doggies driving with their masters. If dogs could smile, mine would be grinning from ear-to-ear! She is thrilled with our outings and looks forward to the next one. And so do I.

    As I consider my two canine companions, I wonder if this same dynamic doesn't happen between God and us.

    We each have our own quirks, idiosyncrasies and tendencies. And yet we are equally loved and treasured because our Creator uniquely designed us just as we are.

    However, there are differences when God is looking to call someone into a place of service. The one who is alert and ready ... the one who is listening for the Master's voice ... the one who is watching for the Master's movement ... that is the one who is invited to go on an adventure.

    I've been both at times. I've been consumed with my own comfort at time. Hesitant and (when I'm honest) uninterested in being used. At other times I've mismanaged my time and energy so that I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, and miss God's invitation to join Him.

    Yet when my eyes are open, and my heart is saying "pick me, pick me," it's amazing how I see God move.

    For so many years I wondered does God really see me, can He use me, does He even want to? Now I realize the answer was "yes" all along. He was waiting for me to be watching for His "let's go" nod.

    Ready to go? Or ready to relax? Loved equally. But used differently. Which one are you?

    Dear Lord, thank You for inviting me to join You in Your work in the world. You have designed me in a unique way, specifically for Your pleasure and purpose. Help me to be alert and ready, watching for the signs that You are on the move. I want to join You wherever You go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Do you want to be used by God but feel overwhelmed with life? You might enjoy I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer.

    What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you ever been certain that God asked you to do something? How did you respond?

    How would you describe yourself when it comes to being aware of God's movement in your life – alert or unaware? What can you do to be more aware of what God might be doing?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 6:8, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" (NIV)

    Luke 12:35-36, "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter

  • Committed Love

    Posted on February 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

    Committed love is the high bar of behavior in marriage. It is not a convenient love that only remains loyal if it has feelings of love. Indeed, a devoted wife and husband love each other deeply. It is a depth of love not shaken by financial setbacks or a child who breaks their heart. Like western pioneers, a married couple committed to love circles their wagons in wholehearted dedication and stay faithful. Committed love finds a way to forgive and move forward by faith.

    Are you looking for a way out of your covenant with God or have you both shut the door on divorce? Your first commitment is to Christ and His commands. His heart’s desire is for you to cover the sins of your spouse with forgiveness and fidelity to your relationship. Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. You know you have committed love for your spouse if your motivation is to heal their hurting heart. Your love flows from Jesus’ love.

    “Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John [Peter], do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

    Peter knew first hand the depth of Christ’s love that forgave him of his multiple sins of betrayal. Indeed, it is out of our incredible sense of being forgiven much that we love much. The reality of the depth of our sin heightens as we mature in the faith. Yes, it is the Lord’s precious forgiveness that constrains us to love deeply our dear wife or husband. Our committed love to each other is built upon Christ’s committed love to us. Marriage focused on Jesus loves one another like Jesus.

    What are some ways you can go deeper in your love for your spouse? You love deeply when you share with them the depth of gratitude you have for their love for you. You love deeply when you defend them in front of complaining children and when you show respect by not publicly criticizing them. You are capable oflovingyour spouse deeply when Christ has loved you deeply. Yes, your committed love is a compelling example of Jesus to your children and to their children.

    “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47, NKJV

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for deeply loving me, so I in turn can deeply love my spouse.

     

    Related Readings: Proverbs 10:12; John 10:11; 1 Peter 1:22; James 5:20

     

    Post/Tweet today: Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. #love

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter, Marriage

  • Walking Wisely

    Posted on January 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

     

    Do you have a wise woman or man in whom you confide? Is there someone—your dad, mom, a business associate, or teacher—to whom you can go for objective, biblical advice? It is in humility we learn to harvest good sense and wisdom. Gaining God’s perspective is not a one-time event but a lifetime of leaning on others to grow in our understanding. Wisdom comes from walking with the wise, not flirting with fools.

     

    Good people engage with good company. There is no separation of being influenced by skilled people with seedy morals during the week and hearing a sermon on Sunday. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Instead, be intentional toward integrity. Seek out a wise peer, or ask a wise mom if you may call her for counsel. Wisdom walks with willing participants who obey.

     

    “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).

     

    Beware of fools who talk fast but do not follow through. They may be aware of what is right and talk the talk, but they fail to walk the walk. They ignore integrity. Fools eventually damage relationships. Foolish behavior will come back to bite you; so avoid its influence. What seems like innocent fun eventually inflicts suffering and harms hearts. Fools practice anti-wisdom. “Fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).

     

    So where can you find wise companions? Look for them in church or in respected leadership roles in the community. Vet their resume of wise living by observing the countenance of their spouse, watching how they love their children, and studying their financial management. Jettison foolish friends so you have the capacity to walk with the wise. Ask, “Am I growing in wisdom or floundering with fools?”

     

    A wise ruler once said, “It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).

     

    Prayer: With whom can I walk in wisdom to become more Christlike in my life?

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 13:12–13; Ruth 2:23; Acts 2:42; 2 Thessalonians 3:14

     

    Post/Tweet today: Wisdom comes from walking with the wise, not flirting with fools.

    #wisdom

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, 1 Peter, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom

  • Overplanners Anonymous

    Posted on December 28, 2012 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

    I sat with pen in hand, surprised by the words on the page in front of me.

    "You will not find my Peace by engaging in excessive planning; attempting to control what will happen to you in the future. This is a commonly practiced form of unbelief." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling)

    Planning is one of the things I do best. I have my list of things to accomplish every day. I have a list of goals in ministry. I even have a bucket list!

    Planning is a good thing, right?

    However, as I read those words in my devotional book, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the way I must often appear to my Heavenly Father.

    There are so many things I want to do. Instinctively I know that God's timing isn't mine, but sometimes my litany of lists are in the hopes that if I work hard enough and plan long enough that God will get on my schedule.

    It's not that planning is wrong. With our busy lifestyles, our lists keep us from dropping off our young daughter in a cowgirl costume at the neighbor's house ... when the party is scheduled for the next Friday (yes, it really happened).

    But this was a deeper heart issue. How many times did I plan and plan and plan some more, only to be disappointed as my lists got longer and my goals farther away.

    My planning was less about organization, and more about worry. I felt more in control if I made lists because I felt like I was doing something.

    I sensed God saying, "Lay it down. All the planning, all the worry about how things will work out."

    In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we are encouraged that, "God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time." In the very next verse, Peter warns us to be aware that, "... the devil is poised to pounce..." (The Message)

    It's no accident that Peter shared a promise, but also a warning.

    The promise is that God is in control. He knows exactly where He is taking you, and as you trust Him, His promotion may look very different (and far more fulfilling) than your carefully drawn plans.

    When we are trapped in excessive planning and things don't work out the way we want, it can create anxiety, frustration, or anger towards God—all traps the enemy would love to use to discourage and distract us.

    I didn't stop writing lists. They keep me from forgetting what I need to do.

    But I have stopped excessive planning.

    God's ways are higher than mine. And if I keep that truth above my planning, then I am open to go in whatever direction God leads.

    I didn't have to sign up for Overplanner's Anonymous. Instead, the first thing on my plan every day is to simply "trust God."

    Dear Lord, I know that being organized is a good thing, but my excessive planning is tied to worry. Today I give You all my cares. You have my future in Your hands. I trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

    It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

    Reflect and Respond:
    Planning is a valuable tool as we map out our day or figure out how to accomplish a huge task. But Jesus often led His disciples to investigate the heart issue beneath their actions. In light of that, ask these questions:

    Am I organized or do I plan excessively?

    What is my reaction when things don't go as I planned?

    Do I believe that God orders my steps?

    Take those answers and get alone with God as you hand your future plans to Him.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 12:25-26, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? " (NIV)

    Proverbs 16:3, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, 1 Peter, Sarah Young, The Message

  • Pride Humbled

    Posted on December 15, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

     

    Pride will eventually give way to humility. It may not happen overnight. It may have to follow a painful process, because pride can be very, very stubborn. Like an embedded splinter deep in the flesh of your foot, it is hard to remove. You cannot remove it alone, and there is constant throbbing and pain until it is extracted.

    This is the plight of pride. Pain and suffering are its cohorts. Pride provides a false sense of security. Spiritually minded people know it is only a matter of time until a fall, as pride will catch up with you. Humility was once a staple in your spiritual diet, but success has squelched your humility and subtly replaced it with pride. Authority without accountability generates pride.

    The more authority you possess, the more you are required to submit to accountability. Otherwise, you cannot handle this freewheeling power. Your behavior defaults to pride without the checkmate of humility. This is true in relationships, business, ministry, and churches. Beware of obsessing over control.

    Paranoia is an application of pride. You are fearful of losing control. It is better to hand over control than to lose control. Humility gives control, while pride grasps for it. So be open and humble about your insecurities. We are all insecure to some degree. Humility builds security, and pride tears it down. The humble have nothing to hide. So root out pride, replacing it with humility.

    The process of pride’s removal begins with submission to Christ. It is acknowledging His lordship and ownership over your life. He is in control. He is large and in charge. Nothing in your life has sneaked up on God. He can be trusted. He holds your life, family, health, and career in His hand. You start by humbly bowing to God with your head and heart. He is to be feared and loved.

    You have the awesome opportunity to worship and adore Him. When you walk with God, you walk in humility. Pride cannot coexist in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Pride is extinguished in the presence of Jesus. Pride is like a roach lurking in the dark recesses of your heart. The Holy Spirit’s light reveals pride and convicts you during times of prayer and Scripture meditation.

    The second offense to pride is praying people. Ask people to pray for humility to infiltrate and occupy your life. You want the occupation of humility on the soil of your heart and mind. Be transparent with others about your sins and shortcomings. Talk about them with the motive for change.

    Humble yourself, and trust God to humble others. It is easy to recognize pride in others while it is still looming in your spirit. Run from spiritual pride. It is the worst kind. It is insidious. It is self-righteousness in nature, and it chokes the Holy Spirit. Humility grows in an environment of honesty, openness, prayer, and change. Be a change agent on behalf of the humble. Humble pride!

    “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5–6).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me walk in humility of heart and mind.

    Related Readings: Exodus 10:3; 2 Kings 22:19; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:1–11

    Taken from the December 15th reading in the new 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God” vol. 2... … http://bit.ly/Tv6y9a

    Post/Tweet: Authority without accountability creates pride. #pride

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter, Daniel, Humility

  • Active Accountability

    Posted on December 1, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:21).

     

    Effective accountability partners are not passive. Once someone invites a friend into his or her life for accountability, it is a serious responsibility. Accountability is active, engaging, and encouraging. The giver and the receiver of accountability have entered into a trusting relationship. Indeed, wisdom listens to the warning of its accountability partner or group.

    Authentic accountability requires caring confrontation. A little bit of short-term discomfort and embarrassment will save you a lot of long-term regret. Thus, when you encounter emotional situations, keep a level head. Accountability facilitates objectivity. When you are under pressure, you have an objective team that gives you wise perspective. Your accountability group is there as a buffer to unwise decision making. 

    “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning” (Ecclesiastes 4:13).

    Accountability provides much needed courage for another to do the right thing. Sometimes it is hard decisions that paralyze us into non-action. However, avoiding a difficult decision today will compound its inevitable consequences in the future. Accountability encourages you not to procrastinate when you are afraid. It relieves your fears and bolsters your faith.

    For example, team members may need to be terminated for the good of the company and for their individual betterment. Prospective church volunteers may need to be told “no” because their character is not fitting for a leadership role. Your young adult children are not prepared for marriage because they need to first move out from home and experience independent living. Accountability helps everyone move forward in God’s will.

    Above all else, live like you are accountable to almighty God, as one day we all give an account to Him for our actions. “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:4–5).

    Prayer: Am I truly accountable to others, and do I provide effective accountability to friends?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 7:1–27; Jonah 3:6; Luke 17:1–4; Hebrews 4:13

    Taken from the December 1st reading in the new 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God” vol. 2... … http://bit.ly/Tv6y9a

    Post/Tweet: Avoiding a difficult decision today will compound its inevitable consequences tomorrow. #decide

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter, Ecclesiastes, Accountability, Ezekiel

  • Find And Replace

    Posted on November 13, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "... throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT)

    There's a nifty editing tool on my computer called "find and replace." It allows me to locate an existing word and exchange it for one more suited to the meaning of my sentence.

    At times I wish I had such a feature on my brain; a "find and replace" option that would help me keep my thoughts in a healthy place and in line with God's Word. Especially when it comes to setting my own agenda and getting my own way. (Better known as selfishness.)

    Even though I can't press a button and instantly swap out my old thoughts for new ones, I can still apply this "find and replace" process to my sometimes-selfish line of thinking.

    When tempted to throw a pity party with only ourselves on the guest list—because let's face it, no one fancies the company of a whiner—let's replace our negative notions with insight from God's Word.

    Here are some "find and replace" examples to help pull a selfishness switch-a-roo. When we find ourselves thinking one of the thoughts listed in bold, let's replace it with what God says in the verse that directly follows it.

    "If I don't look out for myself, who will?"
    "What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)

    "What about my rights?"
    "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being." (Philippians 2:5-7a NLT)

    "I'm entitled to my opinion."
    "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 bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, 'If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'" (1 Peter 3:9-11 NLT)

    "I gotta look out for number one."
    "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5 ESV)

    "Who cares about them? It's all about me."
    "I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God." (Philippians 1:9-11 NLT)

    "But what about what I want?"
    "Carefully determine what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:10 NLT)

    How about it? Could your thought patterns benefit from some "find and replace" therapy? It is sure to center our minds on God and, as a result, make our relationship with Him—as well as with others—healthier, happier and whole. Let's pursue an unselfish and God-pleasing attitude. Find and replace.

    Dear Lord, at those times I'm tempted by selfishness, may I align my thinking with Your will and Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    We're celebrating the release of Karen Ehman's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. It will empower and equip you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Why is it so easy to let our thoughts and resulting actions be selfish in nature?

    Was there a time when you intentionally chose to not be selfish even though you wanted to be? What happened?

    Power Verse:
    James 3:16: "For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. (HCSB)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter, Ephesians, Philippians, Karen Ehman

  • Christians and Halloween

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following post is from a Grace To You blog post. It was written by Travis Allen. Grace to you is a ministry of John MacArthur. John is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    Halloween. It's a time of year when the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. Retailers also rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year.

    It's a good bet retailers won't entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market. Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

    The question is, How should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season--are they overreacting?

    The Pagan Origin of Halloween
    The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween."

    As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in "Christianizing" a pagan ritual--the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That's what happened to All Saints Eve--it was the original Halloween alternative!

    The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

    The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced "sow" "en") celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days--October 31 to November 2. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living--ghosts haunting the earth.

    Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

    For others the focus on death, occultism, divination, and the thought of spirits returning to haunt the living, fueled ignorant superstitions and fears. They believed spirits were earthbound until they received a proper sendoff with treats--possessions, wealth, food, and drink. Spirits who were not suitably "treated" would "trick" those who had neglected them. The fear of haunting only multiplied if that spirit had been offended during its natural lifetime.

    Trick-bent spirits were believed to assume grotesque appearances. Some traditions developed, which believed wearing a costume to look like a spirit would fool the wandering spirits. Others believed the spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable (the Scottish used turnips) and setting a candle inside it--the jack-o-lantern.

    Into that dark, superstitious, pagan world, God mercifully shined the light of the gospel. Newly converted Christians armed themselves with the truth and no longer feared a haunting from departed spirits returning to earth. In fact, they denounced their former pagan spiritism in accord with Deuteronomy 18:

    There shall not be found among you anyone...who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord (vv. 10-13).

    Nonetheless, Christian converts found family and cultural influence hard to withstand; they were tempted to rejoin the pagan festivals, especially Samhain. Pope Gregory IV reacted to the pagan challenge by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century--he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

    As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to "Christianized" superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a "trick" being played on their property from drunken young people.

    Halloween didn't become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.

    Hollywood has added to the "fun" a wide assortment of fictional characters--demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. That certainly isn't improving the American mind, but it sure is making someone a lot of money.

    The Christian Response to Halloween
    Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That's not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighborhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but adults often engage in shameful acts of drunkenness and debauchery.

    So, how should Christians respond?

    First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God's Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God has forever "disarmed principalities and powers" through the cross Christ and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]" (Colossians 2:15).

    Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior--drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.

    Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.

    Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn't just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls "a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God's] adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God's wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner--now that is truly terrifying.

    Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination--death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry--as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian's ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.

    There are several different ways Christians will engage in Halloween evangelism. Some will adopt a "No Participation" policy. As Christian parents, they don't want their kids participating in spiritually compromising activities--listening to ghost stories and coloring pictures of witches. They don't want their kids to dress up in costumes for trick-or-treating or even attending Halloween alternatives.

    That response naturally raises eyebrows and provides a good opportunity to share the gospel to those who ask. It's also important that parents explain their stand to their children and prepare them to face the teasing or ridicule of their peers and the disapproval or scorn of their teachers.

    Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called "Harvest Festivals" or "Reformation Festivals"--the kids dress up as farmers, Bible characters, or Reformation heroes. It's ironic when you consider Halloween's beginning as an alternative, but it can be an effective means of reaching out to neighborhood families with the gospel. Some churches leave the church building behind and take acts of mercy into their community, "treating" needy families with food baskets, gift cards, and the gospel message.

    Those are good alternatives; there are others that are not so good. Some churches are using "Hell House" evangelism to shock young people and scare them into becoming Christians. They walk people through rooms patterned after carnival-style haunted houses and put sin on display--women undergoing abortions, people sacrificed in a satanic ritual, consequences of premarital sex, dangers of rave parties, demon possession, and other tragedies.

    Here's the problem with so-called Hell House evangelism: To shock an unshockable culture, you have to get pretty graphic. Graphic exhibits of sin and its consequences are unnecessary--unbelieving minds are already full of such images. What they need to see is a life truly transformed by the power of God, and what they need to hear is the truth of God in an accurate presentation of the gospel. Cheap gimmickry is unfitting for Christ's ambassadors.

    There's another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.

    Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

    Travis Allen
    Managing Director


    This post was posted in Kids and was tagged with Featured, 1 Peter, Romans, Hebrews, Deuteronomy, Colossians, John MacArthur, Halloween, 1 John, Travis Allen, Grace To You

  • Living in the Light

    Posted on October 12, 2012 by Donna Bostick

    Donna Bostick

    "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

    Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy.

    Words that formed shadows from a past that would haunt me for years. A past that would hold me hostage and keep me from fully living in the light of God's love.

    Fearful as I watched a hot plate of spaghetti thrown across the kitchen. Fearful as I watched furniture crash against walls. Fearful when my dad fell to the ground a few feet from my mom after he'd swung at her and lost his balance.

    Betrayed after my intoxicated father sat me on the back of a horse without a saddle or reins to hold, and then swatted the horse, which sent it galloping. Betrayed as I heard him laugh with his friends as I sailed through the air and landed on a barbed wire fence.

    Abandoned and unwanted when my dad filed divorce papers and failed to even get my name and birthday correct on them. Abandoned each time my dad refused to pay child support. Unwanted as years went by without visits, phone calls, hugs, birthday gifts.

    Unloved and unworthy each time my dad broke his promise ... to visit, to call, to show up for my high school graduation, to pay for college.

    Fearful, betrayed, abandoned, unwanted, unloved and unworthy. Words and emotions that I let define me and cast shadows over me until last year.

    Through several of my pastor's sermons and after a friend's father passed away, I sensed God asking: How would you feel and what would you do if your dad were to die this very day?

    I had no answer. I didn't know or really even think I liked my dad, much less loved him. Fifteen years had gone by since I'd seen him.

    Around that same time, God challenged me with two words: choice and accept.

    I had a choice and I made it. Following God's nudging, on July 1, 2011, I went to see my father and accepted him for who he is.

    In doing so, for the first time ever, I was able to choose to accept my past. God showed me I could not change my dad or my past, but I could choose to walk out of the shadows of their marks on my life.

    One of my first steps, after acceptance, was praying for my dad. When I started praying for him and choosing to forgive him, the shadows of darkness - the shadows of my past - started to lift.

    God then showed me I had more choices to make: a choice to believe He is who He says He is. A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for. It was up to me to choose to be filled with His joy; to let Him be my Father; to live in the security of His unconditional love.

    I had to make the choice to walk out of the darkness of doubt and defeat, and live in the light of His truth.

    It's been over a year since I started making those choices. And I still have to make them 24/7. Not just on Sundays. Not just at 9 a.m. when my day starts. I have to choose constantly.

    So I get up every morning and choose to believe God is a Promise Keeper. I make the choice to believe He loves me like no other can or will, to pray for my dad, to let go of the anger.

    There are days, even minutes, we won't make the right choices. But when we do, we live as the chosen people we are. Children of God who have been called to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your truth that sets me free. Thank You that You have called me out of the darkness and into Your light. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that hurt us, we can process our pain with Jesus. In her book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope shows you how to find confident hope for your future despite the pain and disappointment of your past.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you tired of living in the shadows of your past?

    Make a list of the doubts that hold you in bondage to your past. Pray and ask God to reveal His promises to you and then help you replace those doubts with His promises.

    Power Verses:
    John 8:12b, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)

    Ephesians 5:8-9, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Donna Bostick. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter, Donna Bostick

  • Why I Wear a Toe Ring

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

    I remember begging my mom to get my ears pierced. I was in 5th grade and only one other girl in my class had hole-less lobes. I pleaded my case. "But Mooooooom! EVVVVV-ERYONE has their ears pierced but Heidi and me!"

    That year on my birthday, she took me to the Meijer Thrifty Acres grocery store where a nice lady in the jewelry department pierced them for me.

    The pain was worth the cool.

    When I was in college, my friend Carmen got one ear double pierced. She said she did it to remind her that she belonged to the Lord; that she was His slave.

    You see, in the Old Testament, slavery wasn't unjustly forced like in our modern world. It was more of an occupation; a servant with civil and religious rights. A slave worked for his master for six years and then had the option to leave. However, if he wanted to continue his servanthood, he could. As a symbol of his loyalty, his ear was pierced. Exodus 21:5-6 says this about slaves:

    "But suppose the slave loves his wife and children so much that he won't leave without them. Then he must stand beside either the door or the doorpost at the place of worship, while his owner punches a small hole through one of his ears with a sharp metal rod. This makes him a slave for life." (CEV)

    I loved Carmen's idea of having a small hole in her ear as a sign of life-long service to the Lord. An earring to remind her that she chose to serve God in all areas of her life. However, I am a wimp. And the pain of the first ear piercing was enough for me!

    But a few years ago, while shopping downtown with some friends I had an idea. What if I wore a sterling silver toe ring as a sign of my service to the Lord? My friends and I each bought one.

    I wear this toe ring everyday to remind myself that I am a voluntary slave of Christ. And that I love my Master and the things He's given me to serve, like my family, church, neighbors and others.

    When I see it, it reminds me that I'm not in control, God is. And it helps me realign my preferences with His when I want to be the boss of my life and my circumstances. When I grow weary of serving God selflessly, I am reminded that I belong to Him.

    My toe ring also reminds me that my relationship with the Lord is for life.

    Yes, I am free to do as I'd like. There are no laws in my country against chucking my faith and running away.

    However, my toe ring reminds me:

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." (1 Peter 2:16 NIV)

    Are you willing to commit to God with all your heart, mind and soul? To serve rather than be served? To carry out the wishes of your Master willingly and joyfully? Even though you are free, will you choose to be His slave today?

    A pierced ear or toe ring is optional.

    Dear Lord, may I be reminded continually that it is You that I serve, not the other way around. May my life show my love and devotion to You and my loved ones. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Although the term slave rightly has a negative connotation given history and current-day sex trafficking, how can the word "slave" properly describe how we should relate to God?

    On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being never, 10 being always), how often do you react to life's circumstances with a joyful attitude and "whatever Your will is" perspective? What can you do to make that number go higher?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:17, "Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word." (ESV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter, Exodus, Toe Rings, Karen Ehman

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