“For 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. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
(1 Peter 2:9-10)

What do you make of Peter? When you read the gospels how does he come across? For me- he is an appealing, albeit flawed character. There is something very human about him, very real. He is in one instance a man of boldness and courage and in the next he is full of doubt and fear. He scales great heights of faith and sinks deep in the sea of betrayal and denial. But whatever we say about Peter- one thing we must say is that he is trophy to the goodness and grace of God, as revealed in the person Christ.

From the time that Jesus met him and called him to follow- Peter was reshaped and remoulded by his experience of the grace and goodness of God. From the outset when Jesus’ called him- it seems that he was not content to do anything less than change the very shape of his life. Jesus had a vision for Peter that would ultimately change the world. He would be a powerful force in the early church, the author of two biblical letters, the planter of churches and probably the source behind the gospel of Mark. Peters’ place in history is significant- but it is so because he encountered Christ and Christ walked him through his life and turned this impulsive and sometimes inconsistent man into a Kingdom force. As we look at the person of Peter over the coming weeks- I pray that you would make connections between Peter and you. But most of all I pray that you might see what Christ did, through teaching, guiding, leading, restoring and believing in Peter to help him become the man that he became. Peter was nobody- Christ made him into somebody- he can do the same with you.

May God in Christ lead you into becoming like Peter, an instrument for good in God’s world, who has been profoundly transformed by encountering Christ.

Grace and peace from Marcus

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Prov. 18:21)

Our words have weight, it really matters what we choose to say. The writer of this Proverb believed them to have the power of life and death. That is pretty significant- just imagine, your words can give life, build others up and awaken new vistas of obedience, faithfulness and service or they instead wound, discourage or lead people astray. They have the power of life and death. This being the case- then we ought to aspire, with the help of the Spirit, to be people who use our tongues to give life. Paul encourages us to look at our motives when we speak and to examine our motives and he encourages us toward a use of our tongues that gives life; this can be seen in Ephesians 4:29. “Do not let anything unwholesome come from your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen.” All that to say, the scriptures recognise the power and the potential of the tongue. So, as Spirit filled believers we need to come alive to the power of our words and seek to use them to build up, edify and encourage people in their faith.

The writer of the Proverbs has much to say about this:

Good words can make an anxious heart glad. (Prov 12:25)

A soothing tongue is a tree of life. (Prov. 15:4)

Pleasant words are… sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Prov. 16:24)

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in the right circumstances. (Prov 25:11)

There is power in the tongue. Let’s use our tongues to build up and encourage others, to edify them and give them life.

Grace and peace from Marcus

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” – John Wesley

What does God want us to achieve in his name? Good works. What God wants done is good works. We see this in Matthew 5:16, where Jesus sums up for us the entire purpose of our lives- “let your light shine before others, so that they might see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.” This is the entire purpose of your life summed up in a sentence. We see this over and over again in scripture.

So for example in Eph. 2:8-10, Paul says- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Titus 2:14 also reveals the important place of going good when it says- “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

And again in Jn. 15:16 we see- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

It would seem that right at the heart of the reason that God saved us in Christ, is in order that we might do good.

So let’s do that!

Grace and Peace from Marcus
(Largely taken from What’s best Next- by Matt Perman)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him (Psalm 103:11-13)

It seems as though it is really important to God that his people know that he loves them. In this, most beautiful of Psalms, God asks us to get out the measuring tape and try and measure his love for us. He says the greatness of God’s love is as high as the heavens are above the earth. He invites us to look up in awe- our tape won’t cut it. God’s love is too great.

He then calls us to meditate on the distance between us and our own transgressions, now that we are his. And again the picture is an infinite one- God has torn our sins away from us and thrown them away such that our sins are as far from us, as east is from the west, vastness without measure is again portrayed. God’s compassion is best embodied by that of a father for their child. This Psalm goes on of course- relentlessly riffing on the theme of God’s love and kindness for his people.

So if you ever feel insignificant and unimportant meditate on Psalm 103 and remember the Lord loves you- he does so infinitely so be blessed and be encouraged and have your hearts enlarged by the love of God.

Grace and peace from Marcus
Read Ephesians 3:14-19

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. Matthew. 16:16

At one level we might be tempted to answer the above question- “how does one build a church,” by giving a list of “to do’s?” We need to be good at welcoming people, we need to have good Bible teaching, we need to have an excellent worship team, and we need to have wise and discerning leadership.” I imagine that list could get pretty long and perhaps it is fair to say that all of those things have something commending them- but there is a deeper more core matter that is the basis and foundation for us being a church that grows and builds. It’s based on Jesus’ words to Peter. So let’s look here and see what it Jesus says to Peter and how that might apply to us.

In context, Jesus was asking his disciples who it was “the people,” thought he was, and who it was that they had come to believe he was? The whole gospel has been heading here. Given what you have seen, given what you have experienced- who do you say that I am? And in a moment of God given revelation- Peter gets it- the lights go on, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That is when Jesus blesses Peter- and says this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood but by the Father and on this rock I will build my church. So what do we make of this- well I would say that Peter was significant and foundational for the church- but I also think that “the foundation,” the rock upon which the church was to be built was the revelation of God concerning the Lordship of Jesus. This is how the church is built. By God opening the eyes of the blind to see who Jesus is- revelation concerning Christ by the Father. So let’s pray and work toward being a church that the Spirit uses to open blind eyes to see Jesus clearly.

Grace and peace from Marcus