Blessed, when Insulted.

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. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:12-14).

For the fourth time in his letter Peter speaks to Christians about the reality of trials in their lives, specifically because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Peter has acknowledged that trials may grieve the believer (I Peter 1:7), but he has also encouraged the faithful to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how He handled the trials and persecutions He encountered (I Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-17).

Some commentators believe that Peter wrote this letter shortly before, or after, the burning of Rome by the Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Nero’s act of blaming Christians for a fire he was responsible for marked the beginning of 200 years of Christian persecution by Rome.

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives. The phrase “do not be surprised (μή ξενίζω; me xenizo) is a commandment. We are never to be taken by surprise when trials come, unlike a person who answers the door and is surprised by a friend who has come to visit. The word surprise means to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder. This is not a problem when opening presents on one’s birthday, but it should not be our response when difficulties occur in our walk with Christ.

Second, we are to rejoice in our trials. Let me repeat that; we are to rejoice in our trials. The word rejoice (χαίρω; chairo) means to be glad in your soul. We are to rejoice and be glad in how we think about our trials, along with how we feel about them and the decision to rejoice while in the midst of them. This is also a commandment which we are to continually obey.

Another reason we can rejoice in our trials is that God promises that He will bless us when we are insulted for the name of Christ. The word insulted (ὀνειδίζω; oneidizo) means in the context to be persistently reprimanded, reproached and reviled for one’s identification with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Peter says that when this happens, you are blessed (μακάριος; makarios) or fortunate. Why? Because the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of glory or praise and who is God, rests (ἀναπαύω; anapauo) or continues to abide upon you. This refers to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in all who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19-20) and because of this they are therefore persecuted.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed. Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think many of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come. Rather, we should realize that God promises to bless us when we are in the midst of misery.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Don’t be Surprised, but Rejoice.

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” (I Peter 4:12-13).

For the fourth time in his letter Peter speaks to Christians about the reality of trials in their lives, specifically because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Peter has acknowledged that trials may grieve the believer (I Peter 1:7), but he has also encouraged the faithful to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how He handled the trials and persecutions He encountered (I Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-17).

Some commentators believe that Peter wrote this letter shortly before, or after, the burning of Rome by the Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Nero’s act of blaming Christians for a fire he was responsible for marked the beginning of 200 years of Christian persecution by Rome.

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives. The phrase “do not be surprised (μή ξενίζω; me xenizo) is a commandment. We are never to be taken by surprise when trials come, unlike a person who answers the door and is surprised by a friend who has come to visit. The word surprise means to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder. This is not a problem when opening presents on one’s birthday, but it should not be our response when difficulties occur in our walk with Christ.

Second, we are to rejoice in our trials. Let me repeat that; we are to rejoice in our trials. The word rejoice (χαίρω; chairo) means to be glad in your soul. We are to rejoice and be glad in how we think about our trials, along with how we feel about them and the decision to rejoice while in the midst of them. This is also a commandment which we are to continually obey.

This is the same paradox Peter shared in I Peter 1:6-7: “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.”

Peter says we can rejoice for a particular reason while we are in a season of trials. Our attitude of rejoicing stems from the fact that we share in Christ sufferings. Let’s not romanticize this. The word suffering (πάθημα; pathema) means to be in pain. Jesus used this word when He was speaking to His disciples during the Passover meal the night before He was crucified. He was describing His death on the cross. We may experience real pain for following Jesus Christ and being committed to biblical truth. Isn’t it awesome to consider that we may be persecuted for our faithful identification with Jesus? That’s something to seriously consider when facing persecution.

But Peter is not yet done. He continues by saying that there is another reason for rejoicing. That will occur when Jesus Christ returns in His glory. The word revelation (ἀποκάλυψις; apokalypsis) means to disclose and to make fully known. Glory (δόξα; doxa) means splendor and brightness. We are to rejoice now in our trials because soon and very soon we will rejoice in the revelation of Jesus’ glory when He returns. We can therefore be triumphant in persecution.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed. Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think most of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Don’t be Surprised.

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” (I Peter 4:12).

For the fourth time in his letter Peter speaks to Christians about the reality of trials in their lives specifically because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Peter has acknowledged that trials may grieve the believer (I Peter 1:7), but he has also encouraged the faithful to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how He handled the trials and persecutions He encountered (I Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-17).

Peter tenderly addresses his readers as beloved (ἀγαπητός; agapetos) from the root word agape meaning the object of one’s affection or the one who is prized and dearly and self-sacrificially loved. We do not know if Peter was personally acquainted with these to whom he wrote, but it didn’t matter. He loved them just the same as if it was Jesus Christ speaking to them; and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that’s exactly who was speaking to them then, and to us today.

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives. The phrase “do not be surprised (μή ξενίζω; me xenizo) is a commandment. We are never to be taken by surprise when trials come, unlike a person who answers the door and is surprised by a friend who has come to visit. The word surprise means to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder. This is not a problem when opening gifts on Christmas Day, but it should not be our response when difficulties occur in our walk with Christ.

Jesus said in John 16:33 that believers would experience trouble in this world. However, He also told His disciples to be encouraged because He had already overcome the world. Our view of trials says less about how we view our circumstances and ourselves, but more about how we view God. If we acknowledge and believe the biblical truth that God is sovereign, then we must view trials as being within the sovereign plan and purpose of Almighty God in our lives.

Make no mistake. Peter says trials (πειρασμός; peiriasmos) and testing’s will come, and that they will be fiery (πύρωσις; pyrosis) painful and intense. This cuts against the grain of the health/wealth peddled message preached by so many pastors in America today. Yet, anyone with half a brain can see that such a popular soft-soap message flies in the face of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and flooding which many in the United States, and the world, have encountered. What Peter is writing in I Peter 4:12 isn’t popular, but it is truth.

Inherent in the word “trials” is that they are times of testing and examination. Peter implicitly, and explicitly, explains that this is a fact believers must accept because trials are something they will experience. Our trials show God, and ourselves, how mature, or immature, we are in our faith.

There are some who say that when trials come, it is because of sin. Not necessarily. Peter says that trials should be not viewed as something strange were happening in our lives. The word happening means to occur by chance or fate. Trials are to be understood as the normal and expected destiny for each Christian.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed. Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandment found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Serving by God’s Strength.

 “10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 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.” (I Peter 4:10-11).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another and showing hospitality. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to be good stewards of their spiritual gift(s).

A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve. Spiritual gifts are not for the purpose of personal pride and self-exaltation. I Peter 4:10 makes it very clear that spiritual gifts are for the purpose of serving one another. As churches and individual believers serve one another with their spiritual gifts, they evidence good stewardship.

Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Using one’s spiritual gifts does not just occur when life is easy, but also when it is hard.

Peter now divides spiritual gifts into two main categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts. Previously, we examined the spiritual gift of speaking. Let’s now examine the spiritual gift of serving.

Peter says that whoever serves is do so by the strength God supplies. The word serve (διακονέω; diakoneo) is found throughout the New Testament. It is the word from which we derive the English word “deacon.” Literally it means a “waiter of tables.” The apostle used this same word in I Peter 4:10. All spiritual gifts are to be used for the purpose of serving one another.

However, Peter wants his readers to remember that the only way they can serve one another is by the strength (ἰσχύς; ischys) or capability God supplies (χορηγέω; choregeo) or provides. Rather than getting an inflated sense of our own importance, Peter wants believers to know that regardless of what they do, or how they serve, it is only possible by the ability God gives the servant to serve.

In our previous devotional, I quoted from Dr. Steven J. Lawson who sees an alarming trend in which pastors no longer preach the Word of God. Regarding the responsibility of serving one another, I see an alarming trend of people wanting to be served, but not wanting to serve. Additionally, I also see those who do serve are doing so for what they will receive from their service: notoriety, a following, or a big church with a big time budget. We must continually evaluate not only our motives in how and what we preach but also how we serve.

Peter says that the purpose of using our spiritual gifts, whether speaking or serving, is that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ. There it is again folks. The whole purpose of any church, or any believer or pastor, doing anything is for the purpose of ultimately glorifying God. If speaking or serving in the church is for any other reason or motivation, it is sin.

I Peter 4:11 concludes with a doxology: “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

In his song, Glory to God Forever, Steve Fee writes:

Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours.
Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Oracles of God.

“10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 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.” (I Peter 4:10-11).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another and showing hospitality. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to be good stewards of their spiritual gift(s).

A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve. Spiritual gifts are not for the purpose of personal pride and self-exaltation. I Peter 4:10 makes it very clear that spiritual gifts are for the purpose of serving one another. As churches and individual believers serve one another with their spiritual gifts, they evidence good stewardship.

Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Using one’s spiritual gifts does not just occur when life is easy, but also when it is hard.

Peter now divides spiritual gifts into two main categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts. Let’s examine each separately.

With respect to speaking gifts, the word speak (λαλέω; laleo) means to communicate by talking. Within the context, this is to be done actively and presently. The word Laleo is but one of many New Testament words God uses to convey what manner of speaking or preaching was to be done: the man of God was to speak or preach the Word of God.

The Bible communicates two main truths: First, God exists and He is sovereign and providential. In short, He is in control. Second, this One, True God who exists and who is sovereign and providential has chosen to reveal Himself. He has chosen to do so not only through creation, or general revelation, but also in His Word, which is defined as specific revelation.

Peter says that believers who possess speaking gifts from God are to speak the oracles of God. The word oracle (λόγιον; logion) means sayings or messages. The sayings or messages believers are to communicate belong to and originate from God alone. Oracles are the utterances of God contained in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Old Testament prophets, along with New Testament apostles, evangelists and pastor/teachers did not have the luxury of coming up with their own message and their own methodology of speaking for God. God decreed not only the message to be communicated but also the method to communicate the message. The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy and said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

The reason Paul gave Timothy such a stern command was explained in 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Peter is very clear on this issue. So is Pastor Steven J. Lawson in his book The Kind of Preaching God Blesses. Dr. Lawson writes about an alarming trend in many churches and pulpits to not preach the Word of God.

“To an alarming degree, an increasing amount of preaching these days can only be described as “slick schtick.” By this I mean that form of communication in which the preacher has little to say, but tragically says it very well. This kind of nominal preaching caters to the listener by replacing exposition with entertainment. It substitutes theology with theatrics. It supplants sound doctrine with sound checks. In this sad exchange, the drama of redemption gives way to just plain dramatics. Such negligible preaching has turned many pulpits into a weekend stage for D-list actors who masquerade as preachers. The modern sermon has tragically been described as a mile-wide and an inch deep. Carnal ears will always want to be charmed and not confronted, captivated and not challenged. Those who stand in pulpits must not cave in to these demands, but must maintain the apostolic standard of preaching.”

The church, believers in general and pastors and preachers in particular, must remain resolutely committed to speak the oracles of God. In other words, we must remain firmly faithful to proclaim what God has said in His Word.

If your pastor does proclaim what God has said in His Word, take the time to thank him for doing so. Do it today. Your word of encouragement may be just the thing he needs to keep him going. If you are attending a church in which the pastor does not preach from the Bible, you may want to prayerfully consider finding a church with a pastor who does.

If you are a teacher of a Sunday school class, or the leader of a small group, remain resolute yourself to teach the Word of God. I encourage you to read 2 Timothy 3-4.

Soli deo Gloria!

                       

 

 

Spiritual Gifts.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:(I Peter 4:10).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another and showing hospitality. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to be good stewards of their spiritual gift(s).

The Apostle Peter now addresses the subject of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve. I learned that definition during my first year of Bible College over 40 years ago and I have never forgotten it.

Spiritual gifts are just that, gifts. The word gift (χάρισμα; charisma) is a gift which is freely and graciously given by one individual to another. Within the context of spiritual gifts, believers receive what God has given them. One pastor explains that spiritual gifts are “a gracious divine endowment: an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in a special manner in the individual (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Rom. 12:6, 8).”

Notice that the text says that God has given each believer a spiritual gift. I have heard several Christians over the years say that God didn’t give them a spiritual gift. According to I Peter 4:10, this is not true. It is also true that God may give believers more than one spiritual gift.  However, according to I Peter 4:10 we can be confident that each believer has at least one spiritual gift, perhaps in a combination with other gifts uniquely blended together by God in that believer’s life.

The word “received” (λαμβάνω; lambano) indicates that each believer has actively received a spiritual gift at a particular point in time. The English translation of the verb “received” indicates that this action occurred in the past. This implies that God gives each believer a particular spiritual gift(s) as a singular event, as opposed to a continuous action. In other words, it appears that God gives us our spiritual gift(s) all at one time, and not continuously as the need requires. Also, a spiritual gift cannot be earned, achieved or pursued. It is received through the grace of God the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4, 7, 11, 18).

This does not mean, however, that each believer will know immediately and completely each and every spiritual gift they possess from God. Discovery of one’s spiritual gift(s) usually takes time and is accompanied by spiritual maturity.

Spiritual gifts are not for the purpose of personal pride and self-exaltation. I Peter 4:10 makes it very clear that spiritual gifts are for the purpose of serving one another. To serve (διακονέω; diakoneo) is to presently and actively minister to someone other than yourself. If each believer does this, and this is done within the context of a church, the church will have and evidence genuine spiritual health and well-being.

As churches and individual believers serve one another with their spiritual gifts, they evidence good stewardship. A steward (οἰκονόμος; oikonomos) means one who is in charge or who holds a responsibility. For example, an administrator or a manager of a household. Believers have a responsibility, before God and the church, to manage their spiritual gifts. They are to do so in a good (καλός; kalos) fitting and beautiful way.

To do so displays God’s diversified (ποικίλος; poikilos) or varied grace. In other words, no one believer is more important than any other believer. We all need one another (I Corinthians 12:12-26).

Ask God right now to reveal to you through His Word what your spiritual gift(s) may be. I encourage you to read Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:11-16. Additionally, ask your pastor or spiritual mentor what spiritual gift(s) they see evidenced in you. Begin serving where, when and how you can to see what it is that God gives you the ability and joy to accomplish for His glory and for the benefit of the church.

One final note. Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Using one’s spiritual gifts does not just occur when life is easy, but also when it is hard.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Hospitality.

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to show hospitality.

God encourages believers to be people of hospitality (φιλόξενος; philozenos). The root of this multi-syllable word is “philo” from the Greek word for friendship or brotherly love. Within this context, it means a friendliness to strangers, visitors or guests.

Within the ancient world, there were no Holiday Inn’s. Lodging for travelers could often be found in people’s homes. This is the context for Jesus’ parable about persistent prayer in Luke 11:5-13. As one pastor writes that, “Hospitality was receiving others, especially taking in travelers of the same faith who needed a place to stay. As generally in the ethical ideals of antiquity, lodging and provisions were to be provided generously, not grudgingly.”

Peter is saying that believers are to show generous hospitality to one another. My wife and I have had the occasion to entertain and house overnight several guests through the years. Many times, these were musicians or guest pastors visiting our church. We had the opportunity and the space in our home to do so. We have also done so with my mother-in-law who lived with us due to her ill health.

However, Peter is not just addressing the demonstration of right behavior, but also the demonstration of a right attitude. Showing hospitality should not be done so with grumbling. Grumbling (γογγυσμός; gongysmos) is literally behind-the-scenes talk. It is conversation with oneself, of with another person, in order to complain about showing hospitality to another person. It would be like me complaining about having my mother-in-law live in our home. This type of behavior does not glorify God.

Complaining spoils hospitality. Well, someone may say “I won’t show hospitality. I won’t have people in my home. Therefore, I won’t complain about it then.” That is not the answer. Jesus encouraged the entertainment of strangers or guests (Matt. 25:35). Then and now, hospitality makes mission work possible (3 John 5).

If the Lord has blessed you with a home in which you may house and entertain fellow believers you do not know, take the opportunity to do so. But remember to do so without complaining. Now, if the guest does something inappropriate, that issue must be graciously addressed. However, for the most part, that will not happen.

Have a blessed day and ask God to prepare your heart to be hospitable.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Love One Another.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded. God also encourages believers to do something more: to love one another. This is an example of self-control and sober-mindedness.

The phrase above all (πρό; pro; πᾶς; pas) means that which is of the greatest importance for the believer in Christ. In spite of everything else that God calls the Christian to do, the most important thing to do is to love.

The word love, or its participle form “loving,” is from the Greek word ἀγάπη; agape. This is the highest expression of love. More than a mere friendship or physical, sexual attraction, this love is a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is a self-sacrifice for another which is not based upon the temporary or fleeting emotions of the moment but rather upon a solidified resolution of one’s will. It is the love God demonstrated to a fallen, sinful world by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to save sinners.

I John 4:7-11 expresses it well. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

This is the type of love we are to have for other believers. This is more than implied by the apostle when he uses the familiar biblical phrase, “one another.” While God calls Christians to display varied behaviors toward one another, the most frequent and familiar is to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 12:10; 13:8; I Thessalonians 4:9; I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; 2 John 5).

This self-sacrificial love is patient and kind. It isn’t envious. It isn’t boastful. It isn’t arrogant or rude. It does not insist on having its own way. It isn’t irritable or resentful. It isn’t happy when things go wrong for someone else, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. See I Corinthians 13.

There is a qualifier to God’s directive. God calls Christians to love one another earnestly. To love earnestly (ἐκτενής; ektenes) means to self-sacrifice with a continual eagerness. The word, in its Greek origin, refers to the tight muscles of an athlete who strains to win a race. The believer’s unselfish love and concern for others should be exercised to the point of sacrificially giving for another person’s well-being.

As the believer loves like this, their love will cover (καλύπτω; kalypto) hide or keep secret a multitude of sins. A pastor wrote that, “This kind of strenuously maintained self-sacrificial love is not blind but sees and accepts the faults of others (cf. Proverbs 10:12; 1 Corinthians 13:4–7).”

Therefore, while it is appropriate to anticipate the soon, return of Christ from heaven to earth, let us not shirk from our present responsibilities: especially God’s call for us to love one another.

How may you show self-sacrificial love today towards someone? How may you display patience, kindness, humility, and a true happiness for someone when things go well for them? This may be at home, work or even at school. This is the hallmark of a true believer in Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

Prepare for the End.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (I Peter 4:7).

Peter is making reference to the final consummation of Christ’s kingdom at His return. Peter is saying that the end of the world as we presently know it is at hand or is fast approaching. This means that the return of Christ is drawing near or is imminent (James 5:8; Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:25, 37). This doctrine is referred to as the “last times,” or the “latter days” (I Peter 1:20; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1). In effect, the church of Jesus Christ has always existed in the latter days immediately prior of the return of Christ.

Regarding the soon return of Christ, Jesus explicitly instructed His disciples that no one would know exactly when He would return. He said as such in Matthew 24:36-37: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

How are believers in Christ to prepare for His return? Especially when we do not know when it will be? A friend of mine, who is now with the Lord, was a man totally obsessed with the Second Coming of Christ. Little else dominated his thinking like this doctrine: often to the detriment of his other responsibilities. Is this how we are to prepare for the Lord’s coming? Does God call us to sit on a mountain, or sell all our possessions and wait in eager anticipation for Jesus to appear in the eastern sky?

Not at all! God instructs us through the Apostle Peter that we are not to abdicate our human responsibilities here on earth while we eagerly anticipate Jesus’ return to earth from heaven. What does God want us then to do in preparation for this certain event?

Peter says that God commands believers to be completely self-controlled and sober-minded. To be self-controlled (σωφρονέω; sophroneo) means to have sound-judgment, to use good sense, and to be sensible. To be sober-minded (νήφω; nepho) means to be well-composed and restrained in your mind or thinking. While these two behaviors are applicable to all areas of life and living, they are especially pertinent to how one thinks and acts regarding the return of Christ. To sell all your possessions and to hunker down in a bunker, or to party on a rooftop while awaiting the return of Jesus evidences neither self-control nor a sober-mind. Neither does becoming so obsessed with the return of Christ that you fail to fulfill your responsibilities as a Christian, a husband, a father, a worker and a friend.

We follow these two commands from God for the sake of our prayer life. Prayer, especially when one is persecuted for their faith in Christ, is to be done with self-control and a sober-mind. Prayer, as one anticipates Christ’s return, is to also be done with self-control and a sober-mind.

The return of Jesus Christ is near. It is at hand. I Peter 4:7 says so. With this in mind, we go to work today and give our best knowing that Jesus may return today. We go to school and give our best knowing that Jesus may return today. We raise our families, do our grocery shopping, pay our bills, and do a hundred other things this week all the while doing so with the understanding that Jesus may return any day.

Are you ready for His return? When He comes, will He be your judge or your Savior? There are no other alternatives. No other options. No other choices.

Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord this very moment (John 1:12-13). Then you will be able to say with me, “Our Lord, come!” (I Corinthians 15:22).

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The End of All Things is at Hand.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (I Peter 4:7).

What does the Apostle Peter mean by the phrase, “The end of all things is at hand”? The word end (τέλος; telos) means the end of a particular point of time or a fulfillment. The word may refer, in the immediate context of I Peter, to the then future destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D; I Peter having been written between 60-68 A.D.

However, it is more likely that Peter is making reference to the final consummation of Christ’s kingdom at His return. Peter is saying that this end is at hand (ἐγγίζω; engizo). This means that the return of Christ is drawing near or is imminent (James 5:8; Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:25, 37).

What Peter wants his readers to understand is that the entire period of time between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His second coming to judge the living and the dead is near or soon approaching. This doctrine is referred to as the “last times,” or the “latter days” (I Peter 1:20; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1). In effect, the church of Jesus Christ has always existed in the latter days immediately prior of the return of Christ.

Regarding the soon return of Christ, Jesus explicitly instructed His disciples that no one would know exactly when He would return. He said as such in Matthew 24:36-37: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

However, in spite of Jesus’ own words, ancient and modern man has continually attempted to predict when Jesus Christ would return thereby initiating the end of the world. Here is but a few examples of such bold predictions within recent years.

  • July 29, 2016– The group End Times Prophecies once announced the world would end on July 29, 2016, because of something called a “polar flip.” It was predicted the stars would race across the sky and the atmosphere would be pulled along the ground. It turns out such a reversal is a common phenomenon occurring when iron shifts in the Earth’s core. This prediction turned out to be a bust, as did the group’s prognosis that former President Barack Obama would reveal himself to be the Antichrist.
  • October 7, 2015– The eBible Fellowship, a Philadelphia-based Christian website run by Chris McCann, predicted the end of the world in correlation with the blood moon. (It also claimed the world would end on May 21, 2011.) “According to what the Bible is presenting it does appear that 7 October will be the day that God has spoken of: in which, the world will pass away,” McCann told The Guardian. “It’ll be gone forever. Annihilated.”
  • September 27, 2015– The blood moon-supermoon phenomena generated several end-of-the-world predictions related to four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at six-month intervals for about two years. Mormon author Julie Rowe’s apocalyptic musings caused the Mormon Church to issue a statement to USA TODAY distancing itself from her statements. Hold onto your predictions, though: the blood moon-supermoon will next appear in 2033.
  • April 15, 2014 – Some people thought it was the end; others just think it’s the beginning of the end. The blood moon marked the beginning of a tetrad — four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at six-month intervals — which some see as a prophecy. Specifically, Texas televangelist John Hagee (author of Blood Moons: Something is About to Change) says the blood moons signify a “world-shaking event” that begins to fulfill End Times prophecy.
  • December 21, 2012– Remember this? Basically, the ancient Mayans, who ruled through Mexico and Central America until around 900 A.D., used three calendars, one of which ended on Dec. 21, 2012. This laid the groundwork for the Mayan calendar doomsday craze of 2012. People planned. People partied. It was debunkedover and over. Celebrities tweeted. The Mayans chuckled. Nothing happened.
  • August/September 2011– NASA’s recap of the Comet Elenin fascination explains it for us: “Elenin somehow quickly became something of a ’cause célèbre’ for a few Internet bloggers, who proclaimed this minor comet could/would/should be responsible for causing any number of disasters to befall our planet. … NASA’s response to such wild speculations was then, in turn, speculated to be an attempt to hide the truth.”
  • May 21, 2011– Harold Camping, a then-89-year-old televangelist and former president of the Family Radio Network, predicted the Rapture, initiating the end of the world with a series of worldwide earthquakes hitting at 6 p.m. People believed him. Some quit their jobs and nervously huddled in their home awaiting their moment with God. The Day of Judgment didn’t come. So, he pushed the date back to Oct. 21. Then, he stopped making predictions. Camping lived a long life and died at 92.
  • January 1, 2000– The computers can’t handle an extra digit doomsayers predicted. So, the world braced for a computer database crash of catastrophic preparations. Rev. Jerry Falwell said Y2K would fulfill Christian prophecy. People who had never previously bought into end of the world theories were suddenly stockpiling canned goods in their basement. More than $100 billion was spent on Y2K fixes, the New York Times reported. When the clocked hit midnight, there were a few minor computer glitches but nothing major. Everyone survived.

The Return of Jesus Christ is near. It is at hand. I do not make this statement in order to be associated with the frequent false predictions by so-called end-times prophets. I make this statement because it is found in Scripture. Jesus is returning soon.

Are you ready for His return? When He comes, will He be your judge or your Savior? There are no other alternatives. No other options. No other choices.

Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord this very moment (John 1:12-13). Then you will be able to say with me, “Our Lord, come!” (I Corinthians 15:22).

Soli deo Gloria!