“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. “ Genesis 2:24
In the last 365-no, 366 days-I have learned a lot about the life that lays before Jessica and I. On this day exactly one year ago, Jessica and I stood before our family, our friends and the zoo animals and we were married. It was a beautiful day! We were ideal about what our marriage would look like and we had very little idea of how hard it would be to build the life that we wanted, but we knew God would provide all that we needed through every stage of the first year of our marriage.
In the beginning:
When Jessica and I first met up in 2016 at the Tempe Market Place for a movie, I don’t think either of us knew the story that God was orchestrating. We had re-connected; we had met initially in 2016, and we were both looking for a friend. Then, we started dating.
It wasn’t long before we were befriended and bonded, not wanting to severe those ties again. Within a few months, we knew we wanted to get married, but we would wait-waiting of God’s time to bind us. Through prayer, planning and patience we built our friendship that would strengthen over time; a friendship that grew into love.
Everyone whose ever been married can attest to the fact that it is not always easy or peaceful. Often times it is described as a full time job that can be emotionally draining for both involved. In our first year of marriage, it seems like Jessica and I battled through a variety of struggles that we had to overcome. The question was: would we overcome them together or find ourselves facing the struggles independently?
In the initial months of our marriage, it seems that Jessica and I were both battling personal battles, but we weren’t fighting side-by-side, we were battling against each other. This is not what God had intended for the two of us.
In the initial months, a lot changed for Jessica and I. She went from working a full time job to being unemployed. Due to her lack of employment, Jessica found herself in a dark place where her mind was able to dwell and plunged her into depression.
While Jessica was battling internal struggles of depression and anxiety, my mind filled with doubt; was this going to work? Was this what we both really wanted? And were we both going to fight to keep the love in the relationship alive?
Early into the marriage I was already wondering how long I can fight through this on my own. I didn’t have the confidence to ask for help and I didn’t want those around us to watch our relationship deteriorate before it really had the chance to grow into what God had initially intended it to be.
Our mornings were usually quiet and tense with very little talking between the two of us, then I went to work where I worried about my newlywed life. I would often return home and I would try to get us both out of the house to ease the building tension on our relationship.
The truth was, I didn’t know how to be a husband and I was fearful that I was not capable of being one; a Godly man who leads his family to trust in the LORD through the most difficult times.
Every morning before I woke Jessica for the day, I prayed. That was really all I knew what to do in times like these. I would pray for our marriage and I would pray for Jessica in this difficult time and I prayed for our finances.
Even though we seemed to be in a hole of darkness and despair, we realized that all that we could do was focus on God’s promise for our marriage. Even though it was difficult for the two of us Jessica and I would continue to lift our family up in prayer, looking for hope.
Slowly, we saw God working. Jessica found ways to preoccupy her mind through the days while also looking for a meaningful job at the library. We developed deeper connections with the members of our church and our neighborhood group, which assisted with lifting our spirits on a weekly basis.
We continued to pray together, each time further connecting to each other as well as connecting to God. We began to thank God for providing for us and answering our prayers. We soon found our place in ministry, in meaningful employment and more connected than ever.
We now stand here hitting our one year anniversary trusting God as we follow the track that He has placed us on. We stand here now believing that we are able to face any and all obstacles as long as we have each other to lean on and learn from. We now stand here triumphant in all of the trials that we have faced and we are better and stronger than we were a year ago.
Thank you for being our provider through this year and help us to trust in your name through the next one.
I Love you more than ever and I want to thank you for loving me through all of our ups and downs.
Happy One Year Anniversary!
“5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
After Peter and John healed the lame man that sat in front of the temple, they soon found themselves in jail and standing before the rulers and the priest of the land. They were on trial for the healing and they were being asked where they received the power to heal the sick.
Peter was able to stand before the rulers and the answer the questions with the boldness of the Holy Spirit. Saying:
“10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
This demonstrates the boldness that Peter was given through the Holy Spirit to speak up against the annoyance of the pharisees and the temple rules. Peter demonstrates that it is through Jesus that we are saved and offer salvation for our sins.
Peter reminds the rulers that they sent Jesus to death because they were afraid of the concept that Jesus could overthrow their authority over the church. Peter also reminds them that since Jesus was resurrected from the dead. That means that through our faith in Jesus, we are also offered a new life in Jesus.
“29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
This indicates that the leaders of the temple and the community felt threatened by the influence of Jesus’ disciples. The pharisees and the other leaders tried to quiet the influence of the disciples by threatening them and and trying to force them to remain quiet.
The disciples gathered together after the trail of Peter and John and they prayed for strength and boldness to face the trials that will soon come from the community around them.
In this chapter we learn:
“2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.”
At this time, the disabled men and women were often ostracize within their communities. Often times they are unable to enter the city that they lived, which means that these men and women were also not allowed to entered in the synagogue, which is were the people would go pray and worship their God.
When the disable man saw Peter and John he began to call out to them and trying to get their attention. Often times disabled men and women would need to pleaded and beg for money or food because they could not work to provide for themselves.
“6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.”
Seeing the begging man on the side of the road, Peter turned his attention to the man and spoke to him. Peter admitted that did not have anything to give the man except the truth of who Jesus is. Peter then put out a hand to the man and lifted him to his feet.
When the man got to his feet, his ankles were strengthened and he was able to stand and walk. The man was ecstatic and he entered the synagogue to worship and pray. As he danced through the streets and greeted people, the people began to recognize him. They were also fascinated by the healing of the man and they began to ask questions of who healed the man. Their attention was then turned to John and Peter. Soon Peter addressed the astonished crowd.
Peter admits that he helped the man to his feet up, but that it was Jesus to heal the man, the same Jesus that the people who sent Jesus to be killed on the cross.
“16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
Peter spoke earnestly on the subject of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This extends to the healing of the man that usually begs outside of the synagogue. Peter also preached that the listeners could also receive the healing that the man received.
Peter encouraged the people to repent or turn away from their sin. Sin is the the actions, thoughts and morals that pushes us away from God. These actions and morals run through all mankind and all humans suffer from this heart condition.
“25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Even though we live with sin in our hearts and we are often pushing away from God, Peter reminds us that through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are actually part of the family line that connects us to Jesus. Peter continues to encourage us to trust in Jesus and his love for us. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are given a healed heart and a new life away from our sin.
While the disciples were praying within a room, awaiting the promise of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit entered into their lives. When the Holy Spirit entered into the lives of the disciples, they began to speak the truth of God. They also began to speak in foreign languages that the Holy Spirit has blessed them with.
When the disciples began speaking the truth to the city around them, the individuals began to question and wonder whether the disciples were drunk and babbling in the streets. It was at that time that Peter leapt to his feet and spoke to the city about Jesus, the man that was crucified and rose from the grave.
“22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men. put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
Peter revealed that Jesus was the man that God has brought to us to bring freedom and healing from the world of sin that we live in. Peter speaks on how Jesus was crucified for us sins so that we can approach God in prayer and with a humble heart.
Peter continues by explaining that Jesus was raised from the dead for the sole purpose of bringing all people into a personal relationship with God, where they can be transformed and given a new life through Jesus. It is in that relationship with Jesus that are a given a perfect relationship with God.
“38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
While Peter spoke about Jesus, he spoke about repenting from our sins and being baptized in the name of Jesus. The act of repenting is turning away from our sins and our brokenness, and turning closer to Jesus.
Once a new believer repents and turns to Jesus and they are baptized, the recipient will be given the promise of the Holy Spirit, which guides us and gives us the strength to follow God fully in your daily lives.
This a promise for all who believe in Jesus’ life, his death and resurrection. This premise offers us a new life in Jesus and a personal relationship with Jesus.
“3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
As we look into the scripture, there are some very important things that we need to focus on when it comes to Jesus’ life after the resurrection. First, We notice that Jesus remained on Earth with his disciples for forty days after he resurrected. This is very important because It shows us that Jesus was able to teach his disciples further about the faith that they would be sharing to the world around them.
During the time that Jesus remained on Earth, his resurrection was seen and experienced by hundreds of people, which would all be able to testify to the truth of who Jesus is. This allows us to wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus truly lived after his death, burial and resurrection.
Secondly, we notice that Jesus taught his disciples that there was an upcoming gift that God, the Father has promised them once Jesus leaves the earth. This gift is the Holy Spirit, which is the third person of the Holy Trinity of God. The Holy Spirit Is used to guidance us, encourage us in our darkest times and give us courage to spread the gospel.
“7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
While Jesus was remained with the disciples after his resurrection, the disciples were still under the thought that Jesus’ ultimate goal was to restore the kingdom of Israel. They did not understand that in order to store God’s kingdom to its initial intent, the Gospel would need to be spread throughout the world because God’s initial intent was to bring people of all races and backgrounds closer to a relationship with their heavenly father. The purpose of Jesus’ life on earth was not to restoration to the Israelites, but his purpose was to bring healing and restoration to people and God.
As followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is what gives us the strength to face any difficulties and the courage to spread the Gospel. That means that when we are struggling to follow God, we are able to turn to the Holy Spirit to endure our current situation.
“10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
After Jesus found it time to return to Heaven, Jesus was lifted into the heavens on a cloud. Not surprisingly, the disciples was shocked at this sight and they stared off into the clouds, looking into the sky. It was then that the disciples were approached by two men, who reassured that when Jesus does return, he will return the way he left: on the clouds.
“2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
As men and women of God in a secular world and a secular work environment, it is easy to see that there are are people that we are able to help better understand the Gospel and the God that inspired it. Even when we are not given the most influential platform, we can still make an impact in the lives of those that are around us; whether it be family who don’t know the LORD, or it is friends and co-workers that are skeptical of our faith. We are asked to demonstrate God’s love to those who don’t know ands don’t love God.
In the calling on our lives, it is not our responsibility to hold the Gospel over our friends and family’s heads, where we act “greater-than-thou.” In reality it is our responsibility to be eager to serve those that need God’s grace. We are asked to guide them closer to the LORD.
“5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
While those that are given a high level of influence are expected to guide those in their influence closer to God, it is also true that those who are younger or in a lower level of influence should remain humble, allowing the elders to teach them and guide them in the faith.
In order to learn the faith and walk it out faithfully, we need to be willing to admit that we have much to learn and we need to seek understanding from those who are older in the faith. It is at that point that they can then teach the next generation in the faith.
“8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
In order to grow in faith and later teach the faith, we need to be sober minded, able to focus on God’s truth and God’s path that lays before us. The easiest way to do that we need to understand our own weaknesses. That means we also need to study the movements of the enemy in our lives.
In order to resist the enemy and his schemes, we need to understand them in fullness. At what times are we at our weakest? What are some things that we need to surround ourselves with to strengthen our faith? Lastly, what are some things that we need to avoid in order to not hinder our grow in the LORD?
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
When we are able to resist the enemy and we are able to humble ourselves before the LORD, we are then able to grow in the faith by growing closer to God. Through God’s grace and love we are given eternal glory in heaven. It is through God that we are freed from our sinful past and restored not the men and women that we are meant to be. It is through that growth that are made strong. It is for this reason why we continuously given God the credit for the growth that we experience throughout our lives.
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
In the life of Jesus, he knew that he would face suffering, mentally, physically and emotionally. At the end of his life, Jesus knew that he would face the crucifixion. Jesus knew that he would face the mockery of the people and the abuse of the society.
As Christian we need to arm ourselves with the idea that we will also face suffering and mockery for our faith. Now, we may not face physical abuse for the faith that we share with the world, but we need to understand that mockery is apart of the world that we live in.
When Christ changes your life, too often your actions will also reflect your faith. When your actions reflect your faith, your image looks different to the world around you. This is were the mocking and the suffering will begin.
“4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
When the world is mocking you for your faith because they see that you are different than the average person, they will see that you stand out in the culture. As time goes by, their surprise will become respect and they will soon give the credit of the change to God, who has created a new heart within you.
“6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.”
Here’s the truth: We are all dead and separated from God. It is because of our sin and our brokenness that places a wedge between us and God. It is because of this fact that we need the Gospel to be breached and spoken to the world around us!
It is because of our sin that when we experience someone who is in community with God, we look at them as if they are outcasts. The Gospel is spoken so that we can receive a new life that we will live out with the spirit of God!
“7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are encouraged and asked to love each other earnestly. Too often we live for church on Sundays instead of living out the Gospel on the daily basis. In other words, we should love the community around, that means those in the faith as well as outside of the faith.
In order to better represent God in a community that will mock us for our faith, we are asked to show love and hospitality to the world around us, even if they mock us for the faith that we hold so dear into our hearts.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.”
It seems all too often that we live in a world that is deceitful and broken. We walk around in streets that displays evil and vile acts where one individual quickly reacts to the another’s evil deeds.
Due to that fact that this is the environment where we are born, grow and develop, we also live lives of destruction towards the ones that we should love. In reality, this is a similar realm that Peter was also writing to in the times that he penned his first letter.
This was the purpose of the verses 8-9. For all those that have encountered God’s love should work to live lives of like-mindedness and unity. For those that are suffering from pain and hurt, we are asked to show them compassion and love. We should be urging each other to heal the community around us and not fill it with further evilness.
When we are acting in a different manner than the rest of the people around us, the believer will seem strange and often seen as soft in a world of harsh words. It is all too often that we will splattered with harsh insults and shrill mockery. Yet, we should never repay those actions with the same harmful actions. Instead, we should be compassionate to those that harm other because we sense that they too are hurting. In this we need to be like-minded!
“13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’
When we understand that those that are hurting will often be the same one that harm others, it is easy to see that there is no need to fear the threats. When we show compassion to those that are hurting, we are blessed because we are blessing those that need the blessing. We are not meant to treat them differently due to their pain, but we are to take the burden that they carry and assist them in their journey. We are to show them the same type of love that Christ has continuously showed us!
“15 But in your hearts revere 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Even though we show Christ’s love to those that are hurting, it is true that our loving companion will create questions in the minds of those outside of our faith. This is normal and completely acceptable. In those times we are able to answer the curious inquiries. Even when the questions come with criticisms and harsh words, we should answer their questions with gentleness and respect. Their harshness should not rub off on to our words and into our actions. We take the effort to display Christ’s patience and love in the harshest of moments.
1 Peter Chapter 2:
“1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
As a believer in Christ you are given a new life and a living hope, which we spoke about in chapter one. Due to the fact that we are given this new life, there is a certain expectations that a believer will begin to exhibit and follow as you grow. In this verse we are asked to put away all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. That means that you are allowing your relationship with Christ to create positive habits in your actions. In order to do that we need to excommunicate our bad habits that have developed over the years.
When we give up the negative habits, God is allowed to work in our lives and is allowed to guide us toward maturity in our salvation. Through God’s work, we will become mature believers in Christ and that allows us to better develop our community.
The verse continues by encouraging us to long for spiritual milk. In other words, we are spiritual being at our core, therefore we connect with Jesus on a spiritual level. So, when we develop our spiritual connection with Jesus we become stronger, more mature Christians. As we put away the deceit and the negative habits, we begin to desire God’s spiritual guidance as we grow. It is through our spiritual desire to be connected to Jesus that we grow in stronger in our faith.
“4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
In this next section, we are shown that often when people turn to Jesus, often times they are broken and hopeless. These are the people that are often trying to define who they are by the value that others place on them. This passage shows that in those cases, the individual is often rejected by those that they are trying to impress.
While the world sees the broken-hearted as worthless and common-day outcasts, Jesus sees them as chosen and precious. That means that when we feel rejected, hurt and hopeless, Jesus shows us love and grace. You are not alone! You are loved by God!
COME TO JESUS!
The next segment of the passage shows that God uses our broken hearts and our hopelessness to create a community that shows God’s love to the community around them. When we give our brokenness to Jesus, He can use that to build a community that He then calls “ The Church!”
We see that God loves those that no body loves and no body cares for and God uses our brokenness to create a church that is being used to reveal or to show off how amazing and how excellent God is.
When the world sees what Jesus has done to create a church of love and compassion, the people of the world will then turn to God and give him the glory.
“3Praise 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”
God has given an amazing gift when Jesus chose to die for our sins. Through this extraordinary act, we are given a new life. Along with this new life, we are given a living hope. Notice: this is not just hope, it is a living hope. This means that regardless of what you are going through or the situation that you are currently in, Jesus is the hope that keeps you going. Jesus is the hope that brings you to life. In other words, when you realize that in your hopeless state you are dealing with death, addiction, brokenness and despair, leaning on Jesus reinvigorates that hope that you carry within you.
When you are gifted living hope through the resurrection of Jesus, you are also gifted a heavenly inheritance. A inheritance that will not perish, it will not spoil and it will not fade over time. This is extremely important because too often our human nature is to collect an inheritance that will eventually be worthless and decay. Yet, what Jesus has offered us remains more valuable because it will not decay and its worth will forever be valued and treasured. This inheritance brings us peace, joy and happiness that will never loose value.
In the times of our darkest moments, we need a hope that we can hold to in order to remain strong and we need an highly valued inheritance that we can then look forward to for the future; that is what the resurrection of Christ provides us in our new life.
“7 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. 8 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
It is in our darkest, most difficult situations that we create and prove the genuineness of our faith. It is in those challenging moments we hold on to Jesus’ promises for own lives and what steps we can take to be closer to Jesus and closer to the living hope that is offered. Yes, there are times that we look at our situations and we are struggling to see Jesus working and we will question whether God is even there. It is in those times that we re-fine our faith and stand strong, knowing that we will experience a joy that is inexpressible when we experience the salvation of our souls in heaven.
Therefore, remain strong in Jesus; remain encouraged through the darkest situations. Know that Jesus has given us something far more valuable than anything that we can accomplish in our lives; we are given a living hope that lifts us from the hardest situations. We are also given an inheritance that we can look forward to as we grow closer to Christ and grow to be more like Christ.
Anthony K. Giesick
Actions are taken everyday that help make this world better and I just want to share them with you.