Love One Another

1 John 3

While I study out of the ESV most of the time the first verse of this chapter bears quoting from the NIV. 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

I love the way this verse is quoted in the NIV because of the excitement of it. You can’t use the word lavished without thinking of something being poured out all over the place. The Father has lavished us with love, and then there is actually an exclamation point at the end of the sentence to emphasize it even more. The Father did not pour out His love on us because of anything we do or have done. He pours it out on us and calls us His children because that is what we are! All we have to do is to accept this love! Then the next sentence of this verse explains all of the ridicule and persecution we ever receive because of our christianity. “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” We get so upset at being misunderstood by the world sometime and yet it’s not us that is misunderstood as much as it is God. The reason the world thinks that what we believe is foolishness is because the world does not know God. Nor can it understand the love of God. 

John goes on to explain that those who are God’s children will practice righteousness and those who are not will practice sinning. This is not to say that we will ever be perfect and not sin, only that those who practice sinning, living in a lifestyle of sin, are those who do not know Him and are not His children. 

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:7-8

John breaks it down very simply here. If you are a child of God and if you abide in Him you will practice righteousness. Make no mistake, God will never leave His children alone in sin. That is not to say that children of God will never sin. That is impossible because we are all human. However, if you are a child of God and you are trying to live a lifestyle of sin, God will not allow you to continue in it. I believe He will provide you a way out at first and then if you do not grasp that way out, He will throw obstacles in your path to that sin. 

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

God will not allow His children to remain in a lifestyle of sin. They will not prosper in sin and they will not be blessed in sin. John takes this a step further, however. Our christian life is not just what we are kept from and staying out of a lifestyle of sin. But it is also about what we do! 

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:11

John goes on to give us the example of Cain, who murdered his brother all because his brother was trying to live his life rightly. Cain murdered Abel because Cain’s deeds were evil while Abel’s were righteous. But John is also explaining that we do not have to carry out the act of murder to be murdering in our heart. 

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

Now I know that not everyone is lovable and yes, there have been a few people who have had actions against me and my people that I have had to pray really really hard about the feelings in my heart. But the truth of the matter is, there is never any room for hate in the christian heart. Friends if you have someone that when you hear their name or you look at them you feel something bubbling up in you that could be hate, you have to pray against that. 

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:16-17

We can love because of what Jesus did on the cross and the fact that he laid down his life for us. We can lay down our lives for others because of what Jesus did for us. God’s love must abide in us, and through God’s love we can love our brothers. 

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;” 1 John 3:18-19

We can’t be all talk and no action and truly be abiding in His love. If we abide in Him and in His love we will show it by the truth that is within us. You see this is the thing, if we say we are abiding in Him, we have no choice but to love. 

“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” 1 John 3:23-24

If we are abiding in God, and we believe in Jesus we will love one another. Yes, even those people that are harder to love. And we will know that we abide in Him by the Spirit that lives in us as well. 

Anointed to Abide!

1 John 2:18-29

John is sending out a warning. He is warning his “children” of The Antichrist to come as well as the many antichrists who have already come. An antichrist is just what it says someone who is ANTI Christ. The Antichrist, or an antichrist will stand for everything that is opposite of Jesus. Hmmm does that make you pause? I hear many people talking about what is going on in the world today as the last days, and it may be. However, we have no idea how long the last days may last. The thing that we as Christians are to know is that antichrists will always be among us which is why we have to hang so close to Jesus that these antichrists will not affect our every day walks. 

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” 1 John 2:20-21

All christians have anointing of Jesus. We often think that only those who preach and those who are in vocational ministry are anointed but when you are a Christian and you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, therefore you have an anointing from Him. You have the capacity to grasp the knowledge of Him, you know the truth, therefore, you can recognize the lie. Anyone who denies Jesus is a liar and is an antichrist. Antichrists have been around since Jesus was crucified. We are not to live in fear of them, nor are we to be surprised that they are here now nor are we to look expectantly for them. But we are to be aware that they exist. And the awareness that the spirit of antichrist is here should push us and give us more of an urgency to study the scriptures. 

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.” 1 John 2:24-25

There will always be antichrists, there will always be those around who are trying to deceive us. In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter had reminded us that we have an adversary who is prowling and seeking someone to devour. But we have Christ in us, who is the hope of glory. We shouldn’t cower in fear but continue to abide in Christ so that we will have the anointing from Him so as to walk daily with Him. 

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie -just as it has taught you, abide in him.” 1 John 2:27

As his anointing teaches us and we see truth and we gain knowledge of Jesus, we learn more and more how to abide in him. And when we are abiding in him, we need not live in fear nor should we just stand around gazing into the clouds awaiting His return. But we should live in confidence that one day He is coming. 

Is this the last days? Maybe, I’m not smart enough to know. But I do know that God’s word tells us that no one will know. So I don’t really think that we are to try to predict the when, the where, the why or the how. We are simply to live, to abide in Him so that we will be ready when that day comes. 

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” 1 John 2:28

Shine your light!

1 John 2:1-17

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

John has already made it clear in the first chapter of his book that we cannot become sinless. However, his desire would be for us to become sinless. But we have an advocate that goes before us to the Father, that even in our sin, we can be made righteous in Jesus. He is the propitiation for our sin. Propitiation is the act of gaining or regaining favor or goodwill of someone. Jesus gains favor with the Father for us. 

“but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:5

If you are truly saved by Him you will do your best to walk with Him and the “way in which he walked.” If you are doing your best to keep his word, then the love of God will flow through you. 

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:7-8

I think what John is trying to say here is I am telling you what you already know. You have known this since the beginning, it is the old commandment to love your brothers, you have heard it all before. But I am giving it to you as a new commandment so that you will sit up and take a listen because there is a present darkness in the world but we are to be the light that we already know how to be. Our light for Jesus has already been shining and the world is trying to snuff it out. But the true light will continue to shine even in the darkness. If we buy into the world and how the world behaves we will begin to hate our brother and our fellow man and when we do that we are walking in the same darkness as our fellow man. But if we continue to love and to be a light then we will not stumble. 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11

Oh I don’t want the darkness to blind my eyes to love for my fellow man. It can be so hard to be in this world and not to be of this world. But that is exactly what Jesus told us to do. (John 17:14-18) Jesus was praying for us to the Father that He protect us from the world, not that we would be taken out but that we would know how to live in it and how to shine His light. 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Friends the bottom line is this, when you belong to the Father through Jesus, you can’t love the things of the world. I heard it put this way, “it’s not that we will not sin, but our relationship to sin will be changed.” We will not love the sins that we once did. If you have ever seen anyone do a complete 180 turn from a sinful lifestyle, chances are they have had a true encounter with Jesus! It can be an exciting thing to watch. But that does not mean that the darkness is not still surrounding us. It is trying to get at us, to pull us in and make us hate and make us angry and make us lash out. It is so hard some days. But that is why abiding in Him is so important. If you are abiding in Him it is so much easier to shine your light! 

Walk in the Light!

1 John 1

This letter begins with John discussing relationship with Jesus!

“That which was from the beginning,” 1 John 1:1a

John is immediately pointing us back to the beginning.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John 1:1

God, the Father and His son Jesus were here even before the beginning. God created the heavens and the earth! The Word, Jesus was with God and was God even before any of earth came into existence! 

“which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-“ 1 John 1:1b

John is saying this beginning, this Word, this Jesus, I heard Him, I have seen Him, I studied (looked upon) Him, I touched Him! John wants the people he is writing to, to know, I am not telling you something I heard ABOUT, I’m telling you something I KNOW! 

“the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-“ 1 John 1:2

John is driving his point home that Jesus, the son of God, lived and breathed on this earth. The definition of manifest is clear or obvious to the mind. John is saying he clearly knew this Jesus as a living breathing person! 

“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” 1 John 1:3

And now John gets to the purpose, I have seen it and I am telling you about it so that we can be in relationship with each other and that you can be in relationship with Jesus too. John “got it”! John knew a close, intimate relationship with Jesus and he wanted others to know that close intimate relationship with Jesus too. 

“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete! 1 John 1:4

John is saying that his joy, his life would be complete if he knew that others had found this relationship and close fellowship with Jesus too! His whole purpose in writing this book is to point others to relationship with Jesus. This should be our main goal and purpose as Christians as well. For our life to point others to Jesus. Not to judge, or condemn others but to live a life so close to Jesus that others want what we have. This Christian life should be inviting not condemning! 

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” 1 John 1:5-6

John is again reiterating, I have a first hand knowledge I am giving you, I heard it from the source. God is light! Think of a light bulb. There is no shadow coming off of the light bulb. A light has no darkness at all! Jesus is light, he is perfect in every way. We can’t be in close fellowship with Him if we are walking in darkness. This is not to say we will never sin, this is saying we will not walk in sin, we will not live a lifestyle of sin. Many times people mistake this grace that we receive from Jesus, thinking they can do whatever they wish and ask forgiveness later. But when you think that way, it is a sure indication that you are not walking in the light but in darkness which means there is no fellowship with Him. 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:7-9

It’s all about relationship to John, the relationship we have with Jesus and the relationships we have with other believers. If we are truly walking in the light, walking in relationship with Jesus, then the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from our sins. It is not that we do not sin, it is that our sin grieves our heart toward repentance so we can be washed in the blood of Jesus. It’s not denying our sin, it’s a knowing that only through Him and His blood that he spilled on the cross, can we be made righteous to have relationship with Jesus the Son and with God the Father. It’s admitting that we can’t walk this out alone. 

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10

This relationship with Jesus is not to try to claim perfection on our own! Quite the contrary it’s recognizing that without His blood covering me I am not worthy to walk anywhere near the light! 

I think I like John a lot! 

Keep Living in the Waiting

2 Peter 3

This last chapter of Peter is discussing the last days. Peter wanted his audience to be reminded that there will be a day of judgment to come. 

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” 2 Peter 3:1-3

Peter is saying, pay attention to the scriptures, he was also noting the importance of the New Testament even as it was unfolding before their eyes. He couldn’t have known that these writings would live on for thousands of years except by way of the fact that the prophetic scriptures had already lived for thousands of years. He also says that there will be scoffers in the last days who want to follow their own sinful ways. He goes on to say that the scoffers would be thinking that things would just continue as they had been from the beginning of time. But he wanted the believers to remember that just as the world was made by the word of God, that the day will come that the world will burn up by the word of God. The thing is, we can predict that we are in the last days, but the truth is we have no idea how long these last days will last. Time does not have the same meaning to God as it does to us. 

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” 2 Peter 3:8-10

It is God’s desire that all should come to repentance, and He will act with that thought in mind always. God is patient, and in His kindness, He wants everyone to have a chance for redemption. But the truth is when that last day comes, it will come like a thief, no one will know that it is coming and it will happen quickly and the works that have been done on earth will be exposed immediately. 

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” 2 Peter 3:11-12

I wonder, and these are my thoughts here, if the people were becoming so consumed with watching for the return of the Lord, that they were forgetting how they should live. I had that thought as I read “what sort of people ought you to be”. Did Peter ask them that because they were becoming consumed with the thought of the Lord’s return that they were forgetting to just live their day to day lives in holiness and godliness. For me, if I am waiting for an event or for a season of life to turn or change, sometimes I feel I get so paralyzed in the waiting I forget to keep on living. I think that could be what Peter is pointing out to them. Don’t get so caught up in the last days and the waiting that you forget to keep living. We are waiting for His return but we are supposed to keep living as we wait. 

“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:13-14

The only way to be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace is to keep growing in Him. We should count the Lord’s patience as our salvation and see that His patience is giving opportunity for more and more people to come to Him. We should be aware of the world, that there are people who will twist the scriptures for their own gain but what we do with that is keep ourselves grounded in the scripture. We must be careful to be in the world but not to be carried away by it. 

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” 2 Peter 3:17-18

Yes we should be ready if today is the day but we should also keep living in the waiting in case the day isn’t coming for a thousand years. That is what will bring Him glory. If the world sees that we are not cowering in fear but that we are living in the waiting! 

God will Rescue!

2 Peter 2

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

In this second chapter Peter is warning them that although there are godly men who will hear and know the scriptures and prophesy in their midst there will also be false prophets. There were long ago, just as they are among you! Sound familiar? Peter goes on to tell them that many people will follow these false prophets, that they will distort truth, and that they will exploit with false words because of their greed. But they won’t get away with it forever. 

“Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:3b

If you wonder if God is going to allow the false teachers to not be punished, just look at history. 

God didn’t even spare the angels who sinned but cast them into hell. He did not spare the world but he preserved Noah because he was righteous living among the ungodly. When the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were brought down, Lot was living among them and he was grieved because of the conduct around him, yet Lot was rescued from the cities as they went up in flames. I hear all over how worried we are about the future, and believe me it is easy to fall into the worry. But if the Lord could rescue Noah and the Lord could rescue Lot…

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” 2 Peter 2:9

That one’s for us! That statement right there is for those who know Jesus. Even in the midst of the crazy, and the worry over the future, if you are His, he knows how to rescue you!  That is the most encouraging line of this whole chapter. Hang onto it. 

Peter goes on to describe the ungodly surrounding them. The very people he wants to warn against. He says that they are “bold and willful”, “they do not tremble as they blaspheme”, they blaspheme about “matters of which they are ignorant”. 

“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” 2 Peter 2:13b-14

I don’t know about you, but I think Peter could have been looking into the future as well. As I was reading the descriptions of the ungodly I must say I was feeling a lot of familiarity. But we who know Jesus and belong to Him, when we think on the things of evil that are surrounding us we can know this. 

“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person to that he is enslaved.” 2 Peter 2:17-19

This is a word from the Lord and we can be assured that those who practice all of these things will not be left unjudged. 

Peter ends this chapter with one final warning. He warns those that have heard the word of the Lord and yet they turn back to evil and unrighteousness. 

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” 2 Peter 2:20-21

This is not talking about people who truly followed Jesus and fell backwards for a time. This is talking of those who appear to have been saved and have heard the scriptures and good teaching yet turn their back on it. We can know that there will always be people in our midst who will take on the appearance of having been saved yet given the chance they will walk right back into a lifestyle of corruption and greed. However, I have seen those who were saved and made bad choices and fell into greed and corruption for a time, but the Lord would not leave them there. He will always watch out for His children and He will never allow them to be comfortable in sin. And you can take that one to the bank. 

Oh Lord, thank you for the warnings and thank you most of all that you will always rescue the godly. We may not know when or how the rescue will come but we can be rest assured, it’s coming! 

The way to Godliness

2 Peter 1 

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:1-2

Some very important things to note about this second letter that Peter wrote. First he introduces himself first as servant then as apostle. Peter was much more concerned with being recognized as a servant of Christ, than as his standing as an apostle of Christ. Second, he is writing this letter to fellow Christians and he is extending them peace and grace because of their knowledge of Jesus.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 2:3-4

The way we exercise the power that is ours to claim, is through knowledge of God. He called us to be His and to be able to be a part of his own glory and excellence and through the knowledge that we gain of Him is how we live a life of godliness. When you start walking with Him and living with your life for Him, then you become a partaker of His divine nature. I love the way Peter phrases it here “his precious and very great promises”. The promises of God are precious and they are great! In other words, as we grow in our knowledge of Him is how we exercise power and it is the only way to live a life of godliness. I think people tend to shy away from feeling that they are living a godly life because they think it says something about themselves. But that’s not the point at all, you can only live a godly life because of who He is not because of who you are. I am one step away from slipping off the curb every single day, if not for the grace and peace of Him who flows through me. 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 2:5-8

Have you ever come in contact with a new Christian who is so on fire for the Lord that their faith is spilling out all over everyone? It is a fun thing to watch! But the only way to sustain that is to build upon it. That’s what I love about these verses, everything about this walk builds to get us to love. And I know in my life sometimes it’s like I take a step back here and there and then have to start walking toward love again. When your faith is new and it’s exciting that builds virtue. As virtue in your life grows your knowledge of Him and who He is and what He has done for you grows and with that knowledge self-control kicks in, and then you become more steadfast and able to stand against the things of the world and the fiery darts of Satan and with that it builds godliness in you. Godliness produces more brotherly affection for your fellow man and as that grows you begin to love more like Jesus! 

“Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11

Peter makes it sound so simple here when he says practice these qualities. But really I think it’s us who make it hard. Many times we think if we have not arrived at the steadfastness or love for our fellow man, then we have failed. But we have to remember that godliness in us grows as our knowledge grows. Diligence is simply putting into practice dragging your will to the cross every day. Ask Him for the strength for the self-control you need, ask Him to help you be steadfast against the world, ask Him to help you to love your fellow man. Especially when some of them are not necessarily very lovable. You know there are just some people you have to pray for Jesus to love them through you, because you really don’t like them very well. Some people are just harder to love than others and if Jesus isn’t doing it through you then it just isn’t happening. 

The last part of this chapter is Peter giving them a glimpse into some of the things of Christ, which he was fortunate enough to eyewitness. 

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18

Peter is telling them, and us, I’m not just telling you about things I heard ABOUT, I am telling you about things I HEARD!! We have all had moments in our lives that are profound moments that  we will never forget. Can you imagine if you had heard God’s voice audibly from heaven standing on a mountaintop? Peter heard it first hand, he heard God say “This is my beloved Son!” And he wants others to know it’s not a fable and it’s not a myth! Jesus is the Son of God! 

The last three verses of this chapter is encouraging us to pay attention, for these words, these prophecies, the Scriptures, don’t come from mere men, they come from men who listen to God Himself by the Holy Spirit! 

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

Oh I love that picture and I pray, Holy Spirit carry me along and help me to be a lamp shining in a dark place! 

Humility, Grace and Strength!

1 Peter 5

Peter is giving out exhortations for the elders of the church as well as to the younger people in the church. 

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4

Peter had the authority and the insight to give direction to the elders of the church, first as a fellow elder but also, Peter was an eyewitness to the sufferings of Christ. And Peter was there and witnessed the glory of Christ too. He was there on the mount of transfiguration, he was there for countless miracles, he saw Jesus walk on water and actually walked on water himself. And he saw Him after his resurrection. Think of it this way, if someone is telling you about something they heard about, you may believe them, but when someone is telling you about something they witnessed, it brings a different kind of credibility and energy to the story. Peter wants to be sure that they realize, that he has credibility and energy to bring to them and to teach them about Jesus. Peter was the one Jesus told “feed my sheep”. He had received this exhortation straight from Jesus. And he had learned what that meant from the Master. He wants to teach the elders how to shepherd the flock as well. 

But he also does not leave out the flock in his exhortation. 

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5

Peter begins addressing the younger people of the church, but he quickly realizes this is really a lesson for all. He wants them to serve each other, but he also quoted scripture to them. He reminds them of Proverbs 3:34 when he quotes “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Following Jesus means setting aside our own agenda and pride and living under God’s grace. 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Acting in humility under the hand of God, is simply following His direction for your life. It is realizing that we wouldn’t be anywhere without His lead. I have tried many times in my life to make something happen. But I have come to learn that when I submit my will to His will things always turn out so much better. Sometimes I receive what I was wanting and sometimes I receive a direction that is better than I could have ever thought. I remember once I was up for a job I thought I wanted so bad. I didn’t pray for God’s will, I kept praying for that job. Well, I didn’t get it, and it hurt my feelings so bad. But I also had to humble myself a little bit and I had to congratulate the person who got it, and still had to work with her and be gracious even though she got the job I thought I wanted. But about a year later, another job came available that I was better suited for and was more money, and was way better for me than the first one would have been. I can’t help but think that the attitude I made myself have, to act in humility and be gracious to her, and believe me it was not always easy, had to have helped me to land the other job. I also know God knew what was coming later and He knew what would be better for me at the time and for my future. 

The next verses are some of the most famous of this entire book. 

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

We must always be aware that we have an adversary and if he can’t take us out, he wants to take us down. Once you accept Christ and become a Christian, the devil knows that he can’t own you anymore. But that doesn’t mean he gives up. His aim then becomes to cripple you, he will watch you and he will know your weaknesses and he will throw every fiery dart your way that he possibly can just to make us lose our credibility and to question our faith. But if you resist the darts, and you stand firm in your faith, you will gain more and more strength in order to resist him. I know that the devil never gives up completely but that thing that he is throwing at you, that is driving you to your knees in prayer, is making you stronger in Christ. Friends, don’t let him take you down on your back, let him take you down on your knees. Whatever tactic he is using to cripple you, you take it to the Lord in prayer and then you get up and you brush yourself off, and you stand firm and resist the devil and the darts he is throwing. You see I think after a while, he gets tired of that tactic. And yes, he will move on to another tactic. But you, because of the time you have spent in prayer, your faith will be restored and confirmed, you are stronger and strengthened and more established in your faith. And you will be able to stand firm against him again and again until Christ returns. 

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Surprised by Suffering

1 Peter 4

“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, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2

I have to admit that the phrase in this passage “ceased from sin” bothered me just a little. First of all, we know that no one will ever “cease” from sin until he or she goes on to glory. I thought it strange that Peter would put that in there. So I went digging into commentary and other versions and read forward and what I came up with, and what made sense to me is not that Peter was saying we would never sin again if we have suffered with Christ, but that the resistance to sin and the fleshly desires to LIVE in sin would become easier as we place our trust and our lives in Christ. Peter goes on in the next few verses and explains this a little further. He gives a list of sins that would most definitely be aligned with “living in sin or in the flesh”. 

“For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery and they malign you, but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 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.” 1 Peter 4:3-6

When Peter says “what the Gentiles do” we can interpret this to be what the world is doing. He is saying that it surprises the “world” when we, as Christians do not live the same way as they do. Think about it, generally speaking does it not seem to surprise them that we live the way we do. And going back to the first thought in the first verse where Peter says once you suffer for Christ you will “cease from sin”, is it not true? As you put away fleshly desires, and as you align your life with Christ does it not become easier to resist those fleshly desires over time. When you have been through things that only Christ can get you through, the things of the world become less important and following Christ becomes your aim. And people who are living worldly lives will never understand as long as that is their aim. 

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:7-11

We hear all the time we are living in the last days. Here it sounds to me like Peter thought they were living in the last days. Whether we are or we are not, the bottom line is it says in scripture that no one knows the day or the hour, not even the son, so we should be living self controlled lives. The NKJV says “be serious and watchful in your prayers”. When it comes to prayer we should take it seriously whether we think we are living in the last days or whether the last days are still 100s of years from now. And then above all, we have to love each other. Peter says to love and show hospitality and serve without grumbling. Oh that is the hard part for me. I find myself grumbling and whining and falling into that critical spirit so fast. I need to write these verses on my forehead! We have to remember love and service and that serving each other is the way we serve Christ and that is what glorifies God! 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

Suffering can come in many ways, we may feel that we suffer persecution for our christian beliefs, but we also may be suffering because of bad choices that we have made. One thing we can be sure of is as long as we are still on this earth, there will be suffering. Sometimes we want to be surprised by the suffering, because we don’t understand how this could be happening to me? Oh, I’ve been there, I have asked God a lot of why’s over things that have come my way. Some by my own hand, some by the hand of others and some just because we live in a sinful fallen world. But the the one thing I know and can testify to, is that every amount of suffering that I have endured has not been wasted IF I lay it at the foot of the cross and ask Him to use the pain and to grow me and to be glorified in it. 

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:16-19

Friends, we are being watched by the world. Let us be sure that we are handling the things that come our way in a way that glorifies God. If we don’t then what is to become of them? How we handle the sufferings that come our way is what will either point the world to Jesus or away from Him. 

Faith that is more precious than Gold!

1 Peter 1

I am very excited to look into 1 and 2 Peter. I have always loved Peter and identified with him a little. Not so much because of who he became. Peter was an apostle and was considered a very important leader of the church. But because of who he was in the beginning. Many stories about Peter make me smile. He is a bit spontaneous, he does things before he thinks of them. He gets himself into so much because he doesn’t think before he speaks. At least that is the Peter of the Gospels. The Peter who has written these letters has matured in his faith. He has grown up so to speak and I can’t wait to see what he is going to teach us. 

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.: 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter begins this letter stating who he is, “an apostle of Jesus Christ”. That is pretty much all he had to say because Peter was known among Christians of his day. Peter is writing this letter to all Christians, not just in one region as we see many of Paul’s letters he wrote. According to commentary, the list of the places that he names was probably the places that his letter would be delivered. 

After his greeting, Peter jumps right into praising God. A statement I read in the commentary was “When Peter considered the salvation of God, his immediate response was to simply praise Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are bing guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

There is one of the exclamation points I have come to love. Let us not forget this is the same Peter who denied Jesus 3 times on the night before his crucifixion. This is the same Peter who Jesus restored after His resurrection and Jesus asked him 3 times, Peter, do you love me? And He told him, “Feed my sheep”. It looks to me like Peter was still grateful for his restoration and his salvation. Peter knows his salvation, Peter knows a little something about grace and it looks to me like he is living in it. He knows the living hope of the resurrection of Jesus. 

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Peter was talking to some people who had possibly been through some stuff! He mentions that they had been “grieved by various trials” but that even though they had been grieved that the trials had produced a “tested genuineness of faith”. This faith that Peter is talking about is deep, abiding faith, and Peter tells them that this kind of faith is “more precious than gold”. Have you ever known someone who had gone through some stuff and come out on the other side? These people usually have such a deep abiding faith that it appears to the outside world nothing can shake them. One of the things that was pointed out in my studying, and I had never thought of it this way, was that when our faith is going through a testing by God, it’s not because God wants us to prove something to Him, so much as it is to prove our faith to ourselves. See God already knows if we have that deep, abiding faith! But many times, we don’t know if we have it or not. We say things like “I could never live through that.” I’have things that I ask God all the time, “please don’t prove to me I could live through that.” The truth is, when He is testing our faith with various trials, it is not to prove to Him that we will stand strong, it’s to prove to us that with Him, we can stand strong through anything that comes our way. 

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-16

In light of this faith that we have, the faith that the trials we have been through have proven to us, we should prepare our minds for action, we should be serious in our thlnking that we have a hope that can rely fully on the grace that we receive because of Jesus. Jesus calls us to be set apart, to live a life that would be holy in the way we conduct ourselves. Not because of us, but because of who He is in us! Peter says in this chapter that if we call on Him as Father, He who will judge us each according to our own conduct, not in comparison to anyone else. He is the most impartial judge. He will look at our lives on the whole and He will judge us, BUT if we know Jesus, when we are judged by the Father it will be: 

“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

He will not look on us and see all of of our past mistakes and our bad habits and our sinful nature. All He will see when He judges us is the precious blood of Jesus, of His son! 

Peter ends by giving us a charge. 

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” 1 Peter 1:22-23

If our souls have been purified by Jesus blood and by our obedience to the truth, we should be able to love one another earnestly from a pure heart! 

Lord, help us to hold fast to the faith that we have, to see that faith as more precious than gold,   and help us Lord to Love each other earnestly, the way You would have us to love!