Good News

“And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (I Peter 1:25).

Whether you are a pastor of a local church, a missionary serving the Lord where He has called you, a Sunday school teacher who faithfully prepares each week to deliver a lesson to children or adults, a youth volunteer who drives a bus for an activity, or someone involved in another facet of church, or para-church ministry, God has called each of us to communicate God’s Word. The Bible is to be the focus of all we do for the Lord.

Recently, ministries have tried various ways to attract various numbers of people. High energy music will build a church some say. Others opt for sensational and exciting events to draw a crowd. Zip lining anyone? Still others maintain the fog machines, dark walls in the auditorium, elaborate platform lighting and pastors dressed in skinny jeans and t-shirts is what ministry is all about.

I have recently spoken to several friends of mine who are involved in traveling music ministries. These people are committed to having a Bible based ministry. Yet, they have told me that throughout the country, they see churches making decisions which trouble them. They have seen crosses removed from church auditoriums and various other things I have already made mention for the singular purpose of attracting more people. In short, the philosophy of ministry has become “the ends justify the means.”

Even more than the change in architectural or worship service styles and activities, many church leaders are moving toward a philosophy that the Scriptures no longer are the primary focus of ministry. Whatever is done does not have to be in submission to Scripture. Therefore, services are held, and decisions are made by church leadership, that may even be disobedient to the Scriptures.

The Apostle Peter was concerned with three primary things, according to I Peter 1:25, for the believers to whom He was writing. So should the church today. These three things were the Word, the good news or the gospel, and preaching.

May these primary components of the early church be found in our churches, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

Remaining Forever

24 “for all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” (I Peter 1:24-25).

The truth Peter shares is not solely from his inspired mind. The apostle in vs. 24-25 echoes what the Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:6-8.

Perhaps this epiphany occurs at different times for different people, but as I entered  my sixth decade on this planet I realized that the time I have yet to live on earth is less than that what I have already lived. Sobering thought. The lyrics from the Broadway Musical Fiddler on the Roof rush to the forefront of my mind: “Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years.”

The Prophet Isaiah heralds the message from God that all flesh or life, may be compared to the grass or flowers of the field. No matter how hearty or beautiful they are, they both wither and die. So it is with people; no matter who they are.

The turning point to this humbling, stop me in my tracks, realization is that there remains on this earth one certainty. That certainty is that “the word of the Lord remains forever.” Every promise God has made, every truth He has revealed will never falter or fail. They will endure because God endures, and because God endures, all those who are in Christ will also live for eternity with Christ.

This life here on earth will soon come to an end for all of us. The only question is where, when and how. But for those in Christ, the conclusion of life here on earth translates to the commencement of life forever in heaven. This is what God has promised and His word stands forever.

May this cause each of us to live today with eternity in view.

Soli deo Gloria!

Born Again Through the Living Word

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

Holy living requires a heart which desires purity. Psalm 119:9 says, ““How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.” You cannot have one without the other. It is cause and effect. Obedience to God and His Word results in purity and holiness of soul and body. This is to be a daily discipline.

The reason for this discipline Peter speaks of in vs. 22 is because God has regenerated our souls, vs. 23. We have been born again (John 3:1-8). God has given us a new birth through the preaching of the gospel (John 1:12-13). The cause for any real change in our lives is because God has given us a spiritual re-birth.

This is not a mortal or physical birth which eventually results in physical death. Rather, this is a spiritual birth which is imperishable (ἄφθαρτος; aphthartos) or immortal. It will never die.

Lest there any confusion as to how this new birth occurs, Peter makes sure we understand that our new birth is only by or through the living and abiding word of God. God’s Word, or truth, is actively alive and eternal (Hebrews 4:12). The Apostle Paul declared that faith in Christ came by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

Our entrance into the kingdom of God is solely a work of God. Our obedience once we are a member of the kingdom is a cooperative work between us and God. In either situation, God receives all the glory (Galatians 6:14; I Corinthians 10:31-33).

Soli deo Gloria!

Obedience

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

Holy living requires a heart which desires purity. Psalm 119:9 says, ““How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.” You cannot have one without the other. It is cause and effect. Obedience to God and His Word results in purity and holiness of soul and body. This is to be a daily discipline.

One pastor writes, “As trials refine faith, so obedience to God’s Word refines character. One who has purified himself by living according to God’s Word has discovered the joy of obedience.”

Obedience (ὑπακοή; hypakoe) is paying attention to the truth. God’s Word (John 17:17). Much like guarding your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27), holy living by obedience to God is our responsibility. Thankfully we are assisted by the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13). It is a cooperative effort, but we must not be slack or uncommitted to our responsibility.

Commitment to obedience results in brotherly love (φιλαδελφία; philadephia) or an affection for a fellow believer. Sincere (ἀνυπόκριτος; anypokritos) means that our love is to be genuine. This means a lack of pretense or show. God calls us to love one another sincerely and to not pretend to do so. We are also to love earnestly (ἐκτενῶς; ektenos). This means eagerly and continuously.

Unfortunately, Christians hurt Christians. It happens. Perhaps, it even happens a lot. However, while we may not have any control over other Christians hurting us, we certainly have control of whether or not we hurt other Christians. If we want to be pure, we begin by being obedient to God’s Word which results in holy behavior.

Let’s begin today!

Soli deo Gloria!

Holy

“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. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

As we noted in our previous devotional, one of the most basic disciplines in the Christian life is to not be conformed to the world’s desires which stem from a disobedient spirit towards God. The Apostle John described these desires as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15-16). The Apostle Paul also encouraged believers to not be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

Along with what we are called to not do, God also reveals to us through Peter what we are to do. God commands each believer in Christ to be holy. The holiness of God is His most important attribute (Isaiah 6). It stands to reason that the Christian should be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7).

What does it mean to be holy? Holiness (ἅγιος; agios) means to be separate from sin. It means to have pure, moral qualities. Consequently, we are commanded to be holy in all our behavior or conduct (ἀναστροφή; anastrophe). This refers to how we daily live and conduct ourselves. A holy inner life from God (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21) leads to a holy outer walk before God (Ephesians 2:10) and other people.

As one commentator has written, “Though absolute holiness can never be achieved in this life, all areas of life should be in the process of becoming completely conformed to God’s perfect and holy will.”

Our standard of holiness is God. It is His moral perfection which we are to pursue (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 5:1). As people recreated in His image to be like Him in His holy character, let each of us today reflect His holiness. Read today elated Isaiah 6:1-7; Revelation 4-5.

Soli deo Gloria!

For This Reason

“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” (I Peter 1:13).

The word “therefore” (διό; dio) means “for this reason.” It is a conclusion. Peter draws a conclusion or deduction from what he has previously written in 1:1-12, and which indicates what will now be the focus of what is contained in the rest of his epistle.

In light of all of which Peter has stated the believer is and possesses in Christ, while even in the midst of suffering, he calls believers to prepare their minds for action. To prepare (ἀναζώννυμι; anazonnymi) our minds (διάνοια; dianoia) for action (ὀσφῦς; osphys) is our responsibility. Peter uses three words which essentially have the same meaning. Believers are to get their minds ready for action. In other words, we are to get what Peter has said, and will say, through our heads or into our thinking. We are to prepare ourselves for learning.

God wants His children to understand and apply what He has revealed to them in His Word. Following Christ is not about fun, games and frivolity. The Christian life is about living for the glory of God and being holy in everything we do. This is a serious concern for the Apostle Peter and should be for you and me.

God calls us to be sober-minded. This means to be self-controlled and restrained in our behavior. We are called to not have irrational thoughts, but rather minds guided by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. This is so God will help us to progress in the grace relationship He has established with us, which ultimately will be fulfilled and completed when Jesus Christ returns to earth in His power and glory.

Each day we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for action in progressing in the covenant relationship we have with God in Christ. This means to become more holy today than we were yesterday and to be more holy tomorrow than we are today. We are to take this seriously because holiness is serious business with God. Press on, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

Praise, Glory, & Honor

 “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” (I Peter 1:6-7).

While God never tempts us to sin (James 1:13-15) He does allow, or even sends, trials into our lives when He perceives them to be indispensable. Such was the case with Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 50:20). Why would God do such a thing? Why would the Bible teach such a doctrine? Why are trials necessary?

The answer is given in vs. 7. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The phrase “so that” indicates a purpose for the reality of trials in our lives. They are to test us in order to prove the authenticity of an individual’s faith in Christ. Anyone can say they believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. It is quite another thing to be tested by the fires of persecution to see if you really are a child of God. This is why God sovereignly permits trials.

What is the result of this God ordained tests? The answer is that the tested genuineness of one’s faith (trust, commitment; dependence; worship) in and of Christ would result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Praise (ἔπαινος; epainos) means the excellence of a person. Glory (δόξα; doxa) means splendor and greatness. Honor (τιμή; time’) means respect and high status or value. The ultimate result of our trials and sufferings is that Christ would eternally be praised, glorified and honored as the One of whom we faithfully served, even when the going got tough.

Believers often restrict the praise, glory and honor of Jesus Christ to only to a worship service during the week. Peter instructs us that our praise, glory and honoring of Christ our Lord is about a lifetime of tested faith which will magnify Christ when He returns.

May we live today with this eternal perspective.

Soli deo Gloria!

Trials

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (I Peter 1:6).

The blessings we have from God, which Peter spoke of in 1:3-5, are eternal. This is in contrast to the problems believers face here on earth. These problems, or various trials, are only for a little while. That is to say they last for only a short or brief time.

The adjective “various” comes from the Greek word ποικίλος (poikilos) meaning diversified or many. This word is used throughout the New Testament (Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:34; Luke 4:40; 2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 3:3; Hebrews 2:4; 13:9; James 1:2; 1Peter 1:6; 3:7; 4:10). I read somewhere that poikilos may be the word from which we derive our English expression Polka Dot.

Believers in Christ do not encounter just one kind of trial or persecution. On the contrary, we experience many different kinds of trials in all shapes, sizes and durations. It is not a one size fits all kind of teaching or reality.

The word trial (πειρασμός; periasmos) refers to a test or examination. The word is in the plural form which means that there is more than one trial or test we will face as believers in Christ. One person may experience physical persecution, while another believer faces emotional suffering. Still another may encounter social or relationship persecution because of their faith.

Regardless of the kind or type of trials we face, they are temporal. We will experience them for only a little while. Yet, make no mistake we can and are grieved by them. They irritate us and cause us heartache. They are painful and there is no timetable as to when the grieving will end.

So what do we do? We rejoice in the eternal blessings from God. Remember, God’s blessings are eternal and our various trials causing us grief are temporary. The trials will eventually end. Thankfully, God’s blessings are eternal. Read today James 1:2-4.

What Is An Apostle?

Good morning.

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” (I Peter 1:1a).

What exactly was or is an “apostle?” Was the position of apostle only found in the early church or is it available today? There is disagreement.

The word apostle, of which Peter is specifically identified as one holding this office and title, generally means messenger. It was an individual who was sent with orders from a commander. Within the context of the church, this general meaning could refer to anyone who communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are God’s messengers who are commanded to share a specific, unchanging message (Matthew 28:16-20).

However, there was also a specific definition for apostle which restricted its usage to a select few. This definition is found in Acts 1:21-26. As the eleven apostles sought to replace Judas Iscariot, they stipulated or insisted that Judas’ replacement meet the following qualifications as an apostle. First, one who accompanied and followed Jesus from the beginning of His earthly ministry from John’s baptism to Jesus’ ascension. Two, an apostle had to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ.

There were only two, of the 120 disciples present at that time (Acts 1:15) who were so qualified: Joseph called Barsabbas who was also called Justus, and Matthias (Acts 1:23). Peter’s apostleship qualified him to be a writer of Scripture, which became for the early church a standard to determine what ancient books were to be included into what became known as the New Testament.

God has a specific plan for each of His children by which we can serve Him. God had a plan for Peter. God has a plan for you and me.

Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

A Purpose In Our Pain

God has a purpose in our pain. Every Christian who has ever lived on this earth has experienced pain and suffering in some form or fashion. We all have. Whether by the behavior of others or through the reality of living in this sin cursed and fallen world. We get hurt.

However, God has a purpose in our pain. This is a statement of biblical truth. Here is but a sampling from the Scriptures of God’s purpose.

  • The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19.
  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
  • I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
  • Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4.
  • For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17.

While these Scripture references, and many more for that matter, testify to the biblical truth of God’s purposeful plan for His children who are in the midst of pain, one book of the Bible showcases this theme. That book is the New Testament book known as I Peter.

Our initial journey here at hiswordtoday.org will be to examine this stirring and thoughtful book, inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by the Apostle Peter. My prayer is that questions will be answered and greater trust in our sovereign God will be increased.

 

Welcome!