Are You in Your Right Mind?

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Who Are You Living For?

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, 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. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Upside Down Thinking

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

A Close-Knit Community

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life

and see good days

must keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from deceitful speech.

He must turn from evil and do good;

he must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Marriage as Worship

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Christians in the Real World

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,

and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Godly Lives Matter

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

A Great Salvation

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus,Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

A Seed, a Serpent, and a Shepherd

A maskil  of Asaph. My people, hear my teaching;

listen to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth with a parable;

I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

things we have heard and known,

things our ancestors have told us.

We will not hide them from their descendants;

we will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

his power, and the wonders he has done.

He decreed statutes for Jacob

and established the law in Israel,

which he commanded our ancestors

to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,

even the children yet to be born,

and they in turn would tell their children.

Then they would put their trust in God

and would not forget his deeds

but would keep his commands.

They would not be like their ancestors—

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

whose hearts were not loyal to God,

whose spirits were not faithful to him.

The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,

turned back on the day of battle;

they did not keep God’s covenant

and refused to live by his law.

They forgot what he had done,

the wonders he had shown them.

He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors

in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.

He divided the sea and led them through;

he made the water stand up like a wall.

He guided them with the cloud by day

and with light from the fire all night.

He split the rocks in the wilderness

and gave them water as abundant as the seas;

he brought streams out of a rocky crag

and made water flow down like rivers.

But they continued to sin against him,

rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High.

They willfully put God to the test

by demanding the food they craved.

They spoke against God;

they said, “Can God really

spread a table in the wilderness?

True, he struck the rock,

and water gushed out,

streams flowed abundantly,

but can he also give us bread?

Can he supply meat for his people?”

When the Lord heard them, he was furious;

his fire broke out against Jacob,

and his wrath rose against Israel,

for they did not believe in God

or trust in his deliverance.

Yet he gave a command to the skies above

and opened the doors of the heavens;

he rained down manna for the people to eat,

he gave them the grain of heaven.

Human beings ate the bread of angels;

he sent them all the food they could eat.

He let loose the east wind from the heavens

and by his power made the south wind blow.

He rained meat down on them like dust,

birds like sand on the seashore.

He made them come down inside their camp,

all around their tents.

They ate till they were gorged—

he had given them what they craved.

But before they turned from what they craved,

even while the food was still in their mouths,

God’s anger rose against them;

he put to death the sturdiest among them,

cutting down the young men of Israel.

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;

in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

So he ended their days in futility

and their years in terror.

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;

they eagerly turned to him again.

They remembered that God was their Rock,

that God Most High was their Redeemer.

But then they would flatter him with their mouths,

lying to him with their tongues;

their hearts were not loyal to him,

they were not faithful to his covenant.

Yet he was merciful;

he forgave their iniquities

and did not destroy them.

Time after time he restrained his anger

and did not stir up his full wrath.

He remembered that they were but flesh,

a passing breeze that does not return.

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness

and grieved him in the wasteland!

Again and again they put God to the test;

they vexed the Holy One of Israel.

They did not remember his power—

the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,

the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,

his wonders in the region of Zoan.

He turned their river into blood;

they could not drink from their streams.

He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,

and frogs that devastated them.

He gave their crops to the grasshopper,

their produce to the locust.

He destroyed their vines with hail

and their sycamore-figs with sleet.

He gave over their cattle to the hail,

their livestock to bolts of lightning.

He unleashed against them his hot anger,

his wrath, indignation and hostility—

a band of destroying angels.

He prepared a path for his anger;

he did not spare them from death

but gave them over to the plague.

He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,

the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.

But he brought his people out like a flock;

he led them like sheep through the wilderness.

He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;

but the sea engulfed their enemies.

And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,

to the hill country his right hand had taken.

He drove out nations before them

and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;

he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

But they put God to the test

and rebelled against the Most High;

they did not keep his statutes.

Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,

as unreliable as a faulty bow.

They angered him with their high places;

they aroused his jealousy with their idols.

When God heard them, he was furious;

he rejected Israel completely.

He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,

the tent he had set up among humans.

He sent the ark of his might into captivity,

his splendor into the hands of the enemy.

He gave his people over to the sword;

he was furious with his inheritance.

Fire consumed their young men,

and their young women had no wedding songs;

their priests were put to the sword,

and their widows could not weep.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,

as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.

He beat back his enemies;

he put them to everlasting shame.

Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,

he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;

but he chose the tribe of Judah,

Mount Zion, which he loved.

He built his sanctuary like the heights,

like the earth that he established forever.

He chose David his servant

and took him from the sheep pens;

from tending the sheep he brought him

to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,

of Israel his inheritance.

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;

with skillful hands he led them.

When Opposites Detract

The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.