December 1 – The Songs We Sing – “Build My Life”

Read 1 Peter 2:4-10 and Ephesians 3:16-21

When I sing this song, my mind dives into the depths of my memories of God’s words. I see a house being built of living stones. I see Jesus, The Capstone, reigning over this house.

This is where I get to live. By God’s grace, there are many living bricks in my house. Some have cracks that have been mudded back together by my forgiving Savior. Some are rock solid, built on faith and surrender. Then there’s a yard full of scattered, broken bricks that were full of myself, my plans, my people, my reliance’s on things, rather than on my God.

He is generous, isn’t He? He is worthy of our full assurance and trust. We can count on Him. We can build on Him, the Rock. Even in the darkest of times we can remember His faithfulness and cling to His promises.

It seems God likes this building process or maybe it’s more that He expects it from His children. He knows our weaknesses, the pull of our flesh, and the deception of our enemy. Through faith we become His in an instant. But becoming like Him takes surrender and time. Sometimes we fall flat on our faces. What I love the most is that the offer to admit my sin and get back up is always on the table. He never removes the invitation to follow him.

How can we get back up? How can we let go of the shame and believe this offer is for us?

His love.

Does it seem firm to you or a bit squishy? Maybe your life has been full of fickle ‘love.’ It’s hard to imagine a firm love that we can rely on. We aren’t all that lovable. I know I’m not.

But this love doesn’t rely on our lovableness, it relies on the grace of God. We can’t shake it, ruin it, or shove it away. It hovers over us and invites us to believe it’s not too good to be true.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (1 John 4:15-16).

That word ‘rely’ boils it all down in a hurry, doesn’t it? Are we relying on the love of God or our own ability to get it right?

I will build my life upon your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust in you alone

And I will not be shaken

I love the ‘I will not be shaken’ phrase. I long for stability. For strength. For consistency. And God offers it through a life rooted and established in His love.

Father, help us grasp the width, the length, the height and depth of your love. May we know your love that surpasses knowledge. May we be filled to the measure of all of your fullness, for your glory, now and forever! Amen.

Shelly Eberly

November 29 – The Songs We Sing – “You Keep Hope Alive”

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3

Watch or listen:

https://open.spotify.com/track/6zEwcLzdIHpsJVzOhVLpVC?si=pBY1jhblRL2eWIAwQPGeEA

As one of the worship leaders on staff at Grace Church, I tend to get a lot of songs shared with me. While I can’t always get to all of them and many might not make it into our services, I’m encouraged by how God is using music to inspire our people! Recently, one of our newer team members texted me a link to this song and promised that I’d be sold on it because of “tasty guitar licks” (a phrase that probably sounds odd to everyone except guitar players). After a few listens, I was drawn in to this song, and it wasn’t because of guitar licks! This song came at just the right time. Weekend of Hope was quickly approaching. I realized that our set didn’t include a single song that clearly mentioned HOPE!

This was the one!

You know, we throw around the verb “hope” pretty easily.

“I hope I get this job.”
“I hope that she’s not mad when she finds out.”
“I hope my kids turn out ok.”

The phrase “fingers crossed” comes to mind when I think about these statements. There’s not much confidence in what we are saying, just a statement of desire.

This is not the “hope” we see in our passage today. This is not the hope that Jon Reddick sings about in this song. Peter tells us that God has given us a “living hope” because Jesus rose from the grave! This hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised. We confidently look forward to eternal life with Jesus because we know with certainty that He already defeated death. He proved that whatever He promises is a done deal. When we know for certain that eternal life in glory with Jesus is waiting for us, the troubles and trials of today don’t have to defeat us. Why would we let something temporary tear us down when we have HOPE in the One who already won the greatest battle of all?

You keep hope alive, you keep hope alive

From beginning to end your word never fails

You keep hope alive, because you are alive

Jesus you are alive

No matter what this world and this life (or simply 2020) may throw at us. Jesus keeps hope alive because He is alive. As long as we continue to place our faith in the resurrection of Jesus, our hope can’t be killed by the trials we face.

There’s hope in the breaking

Hope in the sorry

Hope in this moment

My hope for tomorrow!

Are you in need of hope like this today? Have you ever found true hope by placing your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus? If the answer is no, you don’t have to go one more second without hope! Confess your sin and need for a savior to Jesus! Choose to believe in His resurrection and surrender your life to Him!

Experience real hope right now!

Or perhaps you need to reaffirm the hope you have in Jesus. Pray and ask God to strengthen your faith and renew your hope. Walk confidently in that living hope we have because HE IS ALIVE!

Matt Carter

PS- If you can watch the video, pay close attention to the passion that the band is displaying. Their hope is on full display! I was especially struck by the drummer! She’s leading worship…she believes what she’s singing and playing!

October 16 – BLESS – SHARE the Story

Read 1 Peter 3:8-16

When we first started coming to Grace Church, I kept hearing about this ministry that helped equip you to better share your faith in Jesus Christ and what this relationship has meant in your life. I felt a prodding to do it, but I was scared and a bit lazy. Finally, after a few months, I could no longer ignore God’s prompting and I committed to being involved in this ministry for a semester.

The idea was that we would learn the basic points of the gospel, get better about sharing God’s faithfulness in our lives, and share this with family, friends, co-workers or whomever. We put into practice what we were learning by visiting people who had visited the church. The vast majority of people were very impressed that we would take the time to come out and see them. The goal was to listen and get to know them better and maybe have an opportunity to talk about Jesus Christ. One of the things that would really have fouled up sharing with someone is if you had a bad reputation, which really gets around in a small community or talking badly about other people or other churches.

There are many reasons for doing and saying the right things but I think Peter’s emphasis here is don’t do anything that would keep someone from learning the truth about Jesus Christ and hopefully coming into a relationship with Him.

My prayer is that we will all ask God for opportunities to interact with people, watch for these opportunities and ask Him for the timing and the words to help people know about Jesus and make an informed decision as to whether or not to receive the free gift of forgiveness.

When talking with people, we won’t always have the opportunity to share about Jesus but it’s a “win” if we just truly listen to them, get to know them better and maybe be able to meet a need in their lives.

We aren’t going to be perfect and I never want to come across as though I think I am, but we can take responsibility when we foul up and do our best to “fix it”.

When people see a positive difference in us and are curious as to why, we need to be ready to answer them in a concise manner and point them to Jesus Christ.

So, let’s be careful what we say and do so we can ultimately help others by serving them and sharing about the hope and love that is found in Jesus Christ.

Mike Molter

July 18 – United: Country – 1 Peter 2

Read 1 Peter 2:13-17

I am about 4 years too late, but I have hopped on the “Hamilton” band wagon. Being a product of musical theater, you would think I would be all over this amazingly written and created show. However, I was so into other show’s scores and stories that I never gave it much attention. Until recently, when I not only was able to listen to the whole album, but also watch the show. The story of not only Alexander Hamilton came alive but a character and person that intrigued me was that of George Washington. He is known for being the father of our nation and learning more of his story and leadership by way of a musical made me think of Peter’s advice and instruction to honor and respect the authority placed before us.

George Washington held the respect of so many. What made him a great leader, as you will read from almost all historians, is his character. He was a man of great faith, discipline and follow through. He held integrity as his greatest characteristic but also respected those who served under him. Now, for most, respecting and honoring this type of authority would be easy. What about those it is hard to serve? Those that are hard to respect or honor because we see certain characteristics as flawed?

In the professional setting, some would say I hold a “Go-getter” attitude and try to bring clarity and decisiveness as well as follow through to my position. However, when those that are above me don’t meet the same standards that I hold myself to, it can be difficult to honor or respect their authority or leadership. Sometimes I remember the Lord’s eternal truth and find myself in repentance.

Those above us are human; they are broken and flawed, just as we are, and they need grace, just as we do. If the Lord allowed their leadership to come to pass, we are called to respect their position and their authority. This does not mean we have to be best friends or agree with everything that they say or act on, but we must look at their position as one of respect.

I remember many pastors saying, “The relationship that you have with your earthly father often affects your relationship with our Heavenly Father” and I believe that same principle applies to those in leadership as well. As we show respect for Jesus as our authority, we must also allow that same heart of respect to affect the way we see, pray, vote, and support those in leadership.

How we respect and respond to those in leadership will shed a light to those who need to see Jesus.

 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake”

Kelly Lawson

May 10 – When I Get Out – Trust is Contagious

Read Matthew 7:24-27, Psalm 40:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:4-6

I was trying to sleep but my mind was replaying the events of the day. It was September 11, 2001, and I couldn’t get past this eerie feeling that life was never going to be the same. I was scared. I wondered about the safety of my kids, our freedom, if we would be at war, if more attacks were coming. I wondered what this invasion would cost me.

I prayed. I asked God to calm my worried mind. I asked Him to speak into my restless soul. He was gracious and reminded me of the words to a hymn that I hadn’t sung in a long time…

“I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

I thought about the ‘sweet frame’ of the World Trade Center. These buildings were awe- inspiring, tall, stately. I’m sure the people that worked there were proud and felt secure. But the buildings fell. They couldn’t stand up to the evil and pressures of this world.

Lying there in the dark, I felt exposed. There’s nothing quite like an interruption to normal life to reveal what we’re made of. I was counting on so many things: my government, my freedom, my American dreams, my safety.

It was humbling. God uncovered my lack of control. He revealed all of the things I was leaning on that had nothing to do with Him and He invited me to a deeper trust in Him alone.

Wholly. This telling word from the hymn writer’s pen, reminds us of the depth of faith we long for but often lack. It calls us to surrender all to Him…

Yet, we get distracted. We get comfy. We start building on the wrong things so God graciously exposes our flimsy foundations. It’s in those quiet moments that we can be honest with God. We can confess our reliance on earthly things and ask Him to rebuild us into spiritual houses that withstand anything the world can throw at us.

It’s all part of the growth process. He loves working this out in us. It’s His favorite. He loves to see us move from weakness to strength. From flimsy faith to fierce faith. From reliance on ourselves, our government, our wealth, our health, our freedom, to reliance wholly on Jesus.

He will see us through anything and everything. If we put that truth into practice it will be evident in our actions and through our words. If we wholly lean on Him and not our own understanding, our faith will lead the way for others. It will be contagious. The right kind of contagious in this eerie world we live in.

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand

Shelly Eberly

January 30 – God’s Will – God’s will and my trials

Read 1 Peter 1:1-12

Trials.  If there was one aspect of the will of God for us that we would eliminate, it would be this one.  Trials seem to interrupt our nicely packaged and well planned lives.  They create tension and anxiety.  Our imagined life without them seems to have a certain appeal.

But, in our tendency to blow our trials out of proportion, have we lost track of some of the realities about them?  Let’s pause and remind ourselves:

  1. Trials are brief (v. 6).  Peter describes them as lasting “for a little while.”  Although it may feel like it, most people are not in a continuous state of trials.  And even Paul reminds us that our present trials are but “momentary light afflictions” when compared to the “eternal weight of glory” that awaits us (2 Cor. 4:17).
  2. Trials are required.  Sorry, life without them just won’t happen.  They are an outcome of Adam’s sin in Eden, but they are also part of the plan of God.
  3. Trials have purpose (v. 7; Js. 1:2-4).  Your heavenly Father uses trials to develop deeper trust and greater character.  Without them, would you find yourself turning to and depending on Him as much?  Without them, would you have learned many of life’s valuable lessons?  Without them, would you have experienced some of the life change that you have?  More opportunities like that await.
  4. Trials come in various forms (v. 6; Js. 1:2).  They are as variegated as Joseph’s Old Testament coat.  They vary in intensity and type.  Some seem minor; while others seem all-consuming.  Some touch us with respect to health; while others hit us financially or relationally.  We must be ready for any and all.
  5. Trials have their expiration date (v. 9; Rev. 22).  I am glad for this one.  When our faith becomes sight, trials will give way to glory.  Sickness, pain, suffering, and anxiety will one day be engulfed in a salvation that is tangible and comprehensive, addressing not only our eternal destiny but also redeeming us from the outcome of sin and all of its tentacles.

Steve Kern

January 15 – God’s Will – God’s will…submission

Read 1 Peter 2:1-3:7

While there are individually unique aspects of God’s will that may differ from person to person, there are certain facets of His plan that apply to all people and/or to all Christ followers.  Already we have seen that His will is that every person comes to faith in the Son, Jesus Christ.  We have observed that His will includes the sanctification or setting apart of His children from the ways of the world . . . especially with regard to sexual purity.  But today you also read another clear “it is God’s will that” statement:

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

If you isolate that verse from the context, you discover a general principle . . . A morally upright life is like a Teflon skillet. That’s true, you know.  When you do right, accusations of wrong don’t stick.  It is God’s will that you live that way.

But now pause and consider it in the broader context of what Peter was writing.  This challenge to do good is specifically planted in the soil of submission “to every human authority.”  It is God’s desire that you willingly yield to others around you.

You can demonstrate that in how you relate to government regulations and elected officials (2:13-17 cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-7; Rom. 13:1-7).  Do you gladly abide by their requests?  Do you pay the taxes to which you are obligated?  Do you demonstrate respect for the people in the offices, even praying for them?  All of these are a reflection of God’s will.

You are to yield to others in your work relationships (2:18-25 cf. Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-24).  As a supervisor, you are to treat your employees fairly.  As an employee, you are to serve as if serving Christ Himself.  Again, this is part of God’s will for you.

That kind of submission is also to characterize life at home (3:1-7 cf. Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:18-21).  How husbands and wives and parents and children interact is outlined by God.  He has expressed His will for us.

In short, we do God’s will when we do the right things in relationships!  And, as a byproduct, we have eliminated any grounds for accusation.

Steve Kern

January 7 – The Crucible of Crisis – All that we don’t know about suffering

Read: John 16:33James 1:2,12I Peter 1:6-9I Peter 4:12Hebrews 12:5-13

When questioned about the existence of God, Albert Einstein sometimes answered: Man knows perhaps 2% of all there is to know. That leaves 98% we do not know. Isn’t there room in that 98% for God?

In between the things we know are vast expanses of things we do not know. Navigating blindly through these voids most certainly leads to wrong conclusions, especially when those conclusions have to do with trouble in our lives.

Our loving Heavenly Father has not left us to navigate blindly through these oceans of unknowns. He has given us the necessary instrumentation – two essential guides – to lead us through space, time and trouble so we can avoid getting broken and shipwrecked on rocky cliffs of doubt.

guidesGUIDE #1
The first divine guide is truth. While He hasn’t revealed every truth that can be known, what truth He has revealed is our solid, trust-worthy guide through life’s hazards.

Truths we know about trouble… It is:

  • EXPECTED – Jesus guaranteed we’d have trouble (John 16:33), so why be surprised at our suffering “as though something strange were happening to [us]”? (I Peter 4:12)
  • PURPOSEFUL – Peter said trials purify and strengthen faith. (I Peter 1:5)
  • REASSURING – Trouble to correct us when we err proves we belong to Him. (Hebrews 12:5-13)
  • GOOD – Paul said God redeems good out of trouble. (Romans 8:28)
    Trusting in God and His truth keep us steadfast in the storms of life.

    Trusting in God and His word will keep us steadfast in the storms of life.

GUIDE #2
The second divine guide is faith. Faith is the great bridger-of-gaps, the connector-of-dots between the truths we know.

Simply put, truth + faith = confidence during trouble.

QUESTION TO PONDER: Can you add other truths or “guides” to the list above?

Barb Wooler

October 6 – Our Values – There is always a next step

Read I Peter 2:1-12

It is amazing to think that infants survive on a liquid substance! This substance has all they need for growth. This is, as we all know, just for a season. Peter challenged his readers then and us today to be aware of our diets. He tells us what our cravings should look like and what our appetites should be.

Let’s pause to think about this in the historical context in which Peter was writing. Nero was in power and Rome had been burned. All that the people prided themselves in was taken away. Their idols and the places of their pagan worship were gone.  The people had believed that Nero set the fire and were naturally angry. To deflect the accusations, Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome and persecution of Christians ensued causing them to scatter to neighboring provinces. Peter was telling them, then, how to live and evangelize in their hostile environment. The truth of this passage gives them the spiritual direction and help to navigate their culture.

The spiritual climate in which we live today is also antagonistic. In this moment in time, we should also crave spiritual nourishment instead of following fleshly desires. This allows us growth and others may see our good lives, molded by Him, the Chief Architect, and glorify God. We can allow Him to continue to shape and build us into the people our culture needs to see.  The beautiful growth He brings in our lives gives us the platform to declare His praises.  Praises that come out of a grateful heart and a life that has been rescued out of darkness! Later in this chapter, we are called “God’s special possession.” He is showing us through His word what our next step is. Obedience is the barrier between us and growth. This is hard to swallow and yet it’s true, isn’t it? It takes me too long to reason and rationalize why I “feel “ the way I do and why “I need time to process.”  In fact, I am refusing to obey and be used as a “living stone” that is being built into a spiritual house to glorify God (vv. 5-12). Let’s submit to His plan!

There is always a next step! Take a few minutes each day to let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit reveal to you what yours is.

Celeste Kern

Questions to consider:

1. Listen to I Peter 2 and think through the ways to grow in your faith.

.https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/dramatized/niv/1Pet.2

  1. Pray and act on the good things God is revealing to you to do today.

September 3 – Names of Jesus – Chief Cornerstone

Read 1 Peter 2: 4-8

“Jesus is the rock of my salvation, his banner over me is love” is a song we used to sing at a Christian church camp. Once you sing an uplifting song like that, you never forget it. But I never really thought much about the message – that Jesus is “the rock”.

I grew up listening to “rock music.” I went to concerts and heard rock groups perform. Once I became a Christian I began to recognize lyrics that honored God and lyrics that did not.

Then I started listening to Petra, a “Christian rock group.” They influenced me in a positive way. I liked the music and the lyrics were admirable and pure. They encouraged me to live my life in an honorable way. John Schmidt was the lead singer of Petra and I still like to listen to him sing. I took my family and some friends to see Petra one time. My friends thought the music was too loud but I loved it and found the words, often based on scripture to be encouraging and helpful in living in our culture. We started a FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLETES group at the high school I taught at and based it on the Petra song “REVIVAL: START WITH ME” and Colossians 3:23.

I have learned that Petra is also a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra is also a rock. Petra is a feminine given name. It is a feminine form of Peter, which is derived from the Greek word “petros” meaning “stone, rock”.

The rock on which the church is built may be Peter’s inspired confession of faith in Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said in verse 18: “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

The word “rock” is used about twenty-four times in the book of Psalms with reference to God. Here is an example.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”.  Psalm 18:2 NIV

Dear Lord, let me build every aspect my life on the rock of Jesus Christ, my salvation. His banner over me is love!

Tom Weckesser

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • What are some benefits of having Jesus as the “Chief Cornerstone” in your life? What are the consequences of not having Him in that position?