1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV
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.
Do you know what it is like to be an outcast? To be treated like you are a leper? To be regarded as an outsider even among your own people? And, within the body of Christ, too? And, not because of any wrong you have done, but merely because you believe God and his Word, and because you follow Jesus Christ with your life the way Jesus requires that we follow him?
Jesus knew what this was like when he lived on this earth. And, he said that if we follow him, we should experience the same. He said that because he was hated we, too, will be hated, for he has taken us out of the world. For, if we belonged to this world, then the world would love us as its own. But, we’re not supposed to belong to the world, but we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, and set apart to God and to his service.
For, we who are believing in Jesus Christ were chosen by God for sanctification of the Spirit and obedience to Christ. We were chosen by God to be separate from the world of sin and dedicated to the Lord Jesus and to his purposes for our lives. And, we were chosen in Christ to be purified in our hearts and minds, and to be cleansed of our sins, and to live holy lives which are unadulterated (unpolluted) by sin and by the world.
As well, as followers of Jesus Christ, we were chosen and we were called to obedience to Christ and to his Word. Yet, this is not saying we will never sin again, but that the way in which we conduct our lives day in and day out should be characteristic of those who have been delivered out of their slavery to sin, for Jesus set us free! Sin should no longer be what rules our lives, but Jesus Christ should now be our only Lord (owner and master).
1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV
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 being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The reason that Jesus Christ shed his blood for us on that cross was that he might deliver us from our bondage (addiction) to sin, that we might die with him to sin, so that we might live with him to righteousness.
Thus, to be “born again” means that our old lives were put to death, because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, and we were turned from darkness to the light of Christ, and now we have been created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Ac. 26:16-18; 1 Pet. 2:24).
For, Jesus didn’t die merely so we could be forgiven our sins, so that we could escape punishment in hell, and so that we could go to heaven when we die. Our inheritance in Christ, therefore, entails a whole lot more than merely the hope of heaven and eternity with God when we have left our earthly bodies.
Our living hope is that we are no longer enslaved to sin’s passions and the lusts of our flesh, for Jesus set us free! He delivered us from our slavery to sin. And, through faith in Him, we are empowered of the Spirit of God to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. And, that is GOOD NEWS!
And, he has given us new lives in Him with longing for our Lord, and with purpose and direction, bearing fruit (spiritual results) for God’s eternal kingdom. So, we don’t have to be afraid, for he gives us his peace. We don’t have to give in to sin, for Jesus made the way of escape for us. We don’t have to be depressed over life’s challenges, because God is in control, and he is working all things for good for those who love (obey) him, and who have been called according to his purposes (Rom. 8:28).
We don’t have to be lonely, either, for Jesus has sent us the comforter, the Holy Spirit, to live within us, to help, heal, encourage, strengthen, empower and direct us in the way that we should go. And, he can fill us with his joy even when the world hates, despises, and persecutes us.
1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
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.
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are also called to suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel, and because we do what he says. For, just as Jesus was hated and persecuted, so we, too, will be hated and persecuted, but not just by the world, but also by the worldly church.
For, Jesus’ greatest opposition came not from the people outside his faith, but from those who professed faith in the God of Abraham, and from the leadership within the temple of God.
So, if we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are set apart from the world and unto God, and we are walking by the Spirit, and we are no longer living to fulfill the desires of our flesh, we should not be surprised if our greatest persecution comes from within the gatherings of the church and from church leadership, too, who will treat us like we are outcasts.
But, these come not without purpose. For, we are destined to suffer in these ways to test the genuineness of our faith. And, I guarantee that when we are tested in this way, that it will prove our faith to be genuine, and we will be strengthened in our faith, and we will be all the more determined to remain faithful to our Lord in all things. Or else we will fail the test and we will desert our Lord, for many cave to the pressure to be liked by other people rather than to be persecuted for the sake of holiness and righteousness.
But, when we stand the test, in the strength and power of our Lord, and our trials do not take us out, but we mature in our walks of faith through them, then it is for the praise, honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we are able to endure all things.
1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The mark of those who are truly Christ’s disciples, his followers, is their love for God and for their fellow humans. And, to love God is to obey him and to do what he says, and to listen to him and to follow him wherever he leads us. And, to love our fellow human beings is to be self-sacrificial, considering their legitimate needs above our own desires, and above our own reputations, too, and to do for them what is truly God’s best for them.
And, this kind of love is pure of heart, honest, kind, faithful, moral, upright, holy, righteous, just and unpolluted by the world of sin. Thus, it does no harm to its neighbors. Therefore, if we truly love God, and we love others, we will not cheat, lie to, steal from, gossip about, slander, hate, murder and commit adultery against them. But, we will do what is for their good, as God calls good, and we will even do good to those who hate and misuse us.
And, all this we make our practice as our daily walk of faith with our Lord, and if we fail, we repent of our sin, and keep pressing on in following our Lord, growing in his grace. And, we continue in Christ and we abide in him and in his Word, and daily we put sin to death and we put on the armor of God to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, this is the process of our salvation (sanctification) until the day our Lord returns to take us to be with him forever. And, then our salvation will be complete. Amen!
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.
Sunday, January 6, 2019