Look Forward to the Blessing!

739ed76a7e4635f37b21e4bb66e9d19aIf you will love life and live good days, you must love the brotherhood and live the blessing. Then you can look forward to God’s blessing. What is the blessing of God? Peter wrote, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12). The blessing of God is the favor of God in your life! So if you love the brotherhood, if you respond to others with blessing, if you refrain your tongue from evil, the face of Yahweh shall shine upon you. To have the face of Yahweh shining upon you is to receive the favor of God upon your life.

Look again at v. 12—“the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous.” In this context, the righteous are those who keep their tongue from evil and do good and pursue peace. To see good days is to see God watching over you. The favor of God means the watchful, caring eyes of God.

What else? Peter wrote, “His ears are open to their prayers.” To see good days is to see God answer your prayers! The favor of God means God’s answers to your prayers! Here’s a surprising lesson for you and me: “God hears not only how we pray but how we speak to others.”[1] If you love the brotherhood and keep your tongue and heart from doing evil, God will answer your prayers!

[1] Pheme Perkins, First and Second Peter, James, and Jude (Int; ed. James L. Mays, Louisville: John Knox, 1995), 61.

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Live the Blessing — Refrain Your Tongue

imagesSecond, to live the blessing, we are to refrain our tongue. Peter wrote, “For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit’” (1 Pet. 3:10).

Peter is an OT man. When Peter wants to teach a point, he draws from the OT. Here in 1 Peter 3:10-12, Peter quotes Ps. 34:12-15. Look at the word, “For,” in v. 10. “For” what? Peter says, “For this is what Ps. 34 says.” Then he quotes Ps. 34:12-15. His basis is the Word of God. It tells you how to know a biblical preacher. He draws his teaching from the Word of God.

Does your pastor preach the Word of God? At GGCF, we teach the Bible. We set a standard of teaching the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter. We want to feed the Word to spiritually hungry people. We believe that only by the diligent preaching of the Word can believers be edified, equipped, and empowered.

There is Hebrew parallelism here in v. 10. To keep your tongue from evil means to keep your lips from speaking deceit.

There’s a true story about a pastor who had a neighbor who had cleft (forked) tongue. He was standing outside one day. His neighbor who had a cleft tongue began to sing the song of Sharon Cuneta. “Cross my heart I’ll be yours forever. . . . There will be no other.” He was listening intently.

But this pastor was “daranon” (nervous disorder). A “daranon” is one who follows other people’s behavior. His niece knew this. So she shocked him by shouting at him. Then he replied, “What’s wrong with you?” with a cleft tongue.

Are you talking bad things about somebody today? Peter says, “Stop your tongue.” Stop your tongue now. Cease from talking bad things about somebody today. Be done with it.

The word “deceit” is from dolos, which means to bait the fish. The picture is about putting a bait on the hook. Aren’t you deceiving the fish with the bait? Thus, the word deceit means “trickery and falsehood – ‘to deceive, to trick into, treachery.’” (Louw-Nida)

How do you stop your tongue from talking deceit? By guarding your heart! Jesus said that out of the heart, the mouth speaks. It’s not what goes into the mouth that corrupts you, but what comes out of the mouth, for from the heart is deceit and evil. So to keep your tongue from evil, guard your heart! Guard it by obeying the Word of God! Read and obey the Word of God! Come to GGCF and you will learn the Word of God; and you will guard your heart!

That’s how you live the blessing of living good days!

Live the Blessing!

From Peter we learn three things on how to live the blessing. First, we are to respond x-repay-no-one-evil-for-evilwith blessing. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). Peter is talking to people who are being abused by other people. He said bless them. Bless them. Jesus said if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek. Somebody said that if somebody throws you a stone, you throw him back a piece of bread, but the bread that’s inside a glass container!

Somebody said that if we follow the saying, “An eye for an eye,” the whole world will be full of blind people! If somebody speaks evil of you, and you retaliate with evil, it will hurt you first. It will affect your health! I’d like to print a T-shirt with the words, “Sin is bad for your health.” Your blood pressure will go up. You won’t sleep well at night. You will drag your family and friends into depression. It will eat your soul.

What do you do when somebody throws bad things at you? Peter says, “Don’t retaliate. Don’t return evil for evil.” Respond with blessing. Return a word of blessing for the word of curse you received.

Why? Look at v. 9: “For to this you were called.” It’s not because you come from a good family. It is not because of your training in good manners in school. It’s not because of the culture that tells you to treat others well. No, that is not Peter’s reason here. He wrote, “For to this you were called.” It is your calling to bless others. It is your calling to not return evil for evil. It is your calling to follow Christ when being maltreated by others. “For to this you were called.”

For what purpose were you called? Peter wrote, “That you may obtain a blessing” (v. 9). What kind of blessing will you receive, if you will NOT return evil for evil, and return blessing instead? Look at v. 10: “love life and see good days.” If you will not return evil for evil, but only blessing, you will love life and live good days! That is the blessing!

A Tender Heart and Humility

Ephesians_4-32Fourth, to love the brethren is to have a “tender heart,” from eusplagchnos, which literally means, “good bowels or intestines” (Strong). The bowels include the intestines, liver, and kidney. It connotes the deepest human emotion. If sympathy is having the same feeling, tenderheartedness means entering into a deeper feeling for somebody. To be tenderhearted is to be “affectionate and compassionate” (Louw-Nida) towards somebody. To be compassionate is to feel concern and care for somebody. That is our theme for 2015-2016—“Care for the needy.”

Isn’t that the kind of God we serve? Remember when Jesus arrived in Bethany, knowing that his friend Lazarus was dead for four days already? He said, “Where have you laid him?” They answered, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw his friend lying there, what did Jesus do? It’s the shortest verse in the Bible. John wrote, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s the nature of the God we worship. He is not just sympathetic, entering into our feelings. He is also tender-hearted, compassionate, entering into our deepest feelings. He feels your hurt. He knows your pain. He enters into your deepest emotions. Jesus came down from heaven to earth, to sit where you sit, to know how you feel. That is why we can come to the Father in Jesus’ Name. He knows the pain that we are feeling.

Fifth, to love a brother is to have a “humble mind.” The word is from tapeinophron–a lowly spirit. How can we show a humble mind to each other? Phil. 2:3: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind [tapeinophron]let each esteem others better than himself” (NKJV). To be humble is to give up your pride, and in lowliness of mind, to consider others better than yourself.

Last Friday, we held a training class at Mandaue Christian School. The Senior Pastor of the church did something wonderful. He served us. He served us like a waiter. He asked us what we wanted for lunch. He served us coffee. He gathered our coffee cups, put it on the tray, and carried the tray downstairs. Where can you find a big church where the Senior Pastor serves you? In most big churches, you cannot even shake the hand of the Senior Pastor.

Can I ask you to do something today? Look around for somebody whom you could show sympathy, somebody whom you could share her joy and sorrow. Look for somebody whom you could show love unselfishly. Look for somebody whom you could show compassion, caring, and concern. Look for somebody whom you could show lowliness of mind. Then you will love life and live good days till Jesus comes again!

Love the Brotherhood

Peter teaches us five ways to love the brotherhood of believers. I call these the five love unitylanguages of Peter. First, have “unity of mind” (v. 8), from homophron, from the word, homos, which means, “together,” and phren, “mind” (Strong). Literally, it means, “one mind together,” “likeminded,” “harmonious,” or “having the same attitudes” (Louw-Nida) Peter is not saying here that we all think the same way. Peter is telling us to have the same attitude toward something.

When I got married, I expected my wife to fit into my way of thinking. But I was wrong. I carry a handkerchief always. She doesn’t. I carry an umbrella when it’s raining. She doesn’t. I list things to do and things to buy in my cell phone. She doesn’t.

We all cannot think the same things the same way. What Peter is saying here is that we relate with each other harmoniously, having the same attitude, without quarreling.

Do you want to love life and live good days in your home? Stop fighting each other. Stop repeating the hateful words you said to each other. Forgive each other and talk to each other. With a forgiving attitude, love each other. Then you will love life and live good days.

Second, practice “sympathy” (v. 8). It translates the word, sumpascho, which means, “to experience pain jointly” (Strong) or to suffer together with someone.

Who is more likely to give more “tip” to the waiter? The one who understands the hardship of the waiter is more likely to give more to the waiter.

It was only last year that we bought a dog, a beagle. Mylene has come to love our beagle very much. She would pat him and stroke him and do things to him that she wouldn’t do to me. Sometimes I wish that I were a dog. One day Mylene saw stray dogs walking on the street. She told me that she now feels pity for street dogs that she didn’t feel before.

Every time I see those street kids begging for money under the heat of the sun, I feel sad deep inside. My first ministry was teaching Sunday school to poor kids in poor barangays. I feel their hardship, hunger, and pain. That’s what sympathy means—feeling the pain, experiencing the same thing together, and suffering together.

We should sympathize with each other’s situations. Sympathize with each other’s struggles. Be ready to enter into the situation of somebody today. Then you will love life and live good days.

Third, Peter wrote that we are to practice “brotherly love” (v. 8). The word is from philadelphos, which means “loving one another as brothers.” (Louw-Nida) Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35,  NKJV). Love is the mark of true followers of Christ. Love for God, love for the Word of God, and love for one another.

How do we show love as in GGCF? Can you count the ways? We visit the sick. We visit the disabled and shut in. We give a love gift for the needy. Somebody lost his clothes and needed money. We gave him a love gift. Somebody lost a loved one. We gave a love gift. Somebody is in the hospital. Hospital bills are expensive. We give a love gift. We don’t just say, “We’ll pray for you.” We give money to the needy. This year, our theme is “Dare, Care, Share.” Dare to do something for God that you haven’t done before. Care for the needy. Share the Gospel.

I’d like our church, GGCF, to be known in Cebu City, as the church that loves God. I’d like GGCF to be known as the church that loves each other!

How to Love Life and Live Good Days

c0939426ed5760e3938ca144f6235d08What does the world tell you about the good life? The world tells you that the good life is having many possessions—having a nice house, nice car, nice clothes, and money in the bank. The world tells you that the good life is enjoying life—drinking, partying, and doing anything you want in life.

But Peter says the good life is never material or physical, but relational. In 1 Peter 3:8-9, Peter tells the suffering Christians to love and bless one another. Then in vv. 10-11, he writes, “For Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.’” The conjunction “for” links v. 9 with v. 10. It can mean, “because” or “the reason being.” In effect, Peter is saying that we need to love and bless each other, because it is the key to loving life and living good days. The key to living the good life is personal (a matter of the heart) and relational (a matter of relating with others).

The Christians of Peter’s day were harassed for their faith. They were abused by slave owners. They had a hard time with their unbelieving husbands or wives. Still, Peter said you can love life and live good days. It means that despite your bad situation in life, whatever you are facing today, you can still love life and live good days in Christ!

In 1 Peter 3:8-11, to love life and live good days, we must do three things. We must love the brotherhood, live the blessing, and look forward to God’s blessing.