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!

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!

Not Conformed

“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,” (I Peter 1:13-14).

What is one of the most basic disciplines God calls Christians to achieve? Peter submits that it is to not be conformed to the passions of the fallen world. Our perspective in not being conformed to the world stems from a previous desire to be obedient to God. To be conformed (συσχηματίζω; syschematizo) means to be modeled after something or to have one’s behavior shaped and molded to a particular pattern of living. God says that our behavior is not to be modeled, shaped or molded to the world.

Peter uses the expression “the passions of your former ignorance.” This means the believer is no longer to be shaped, patterned or molded by the desires or cravings of their former life without Christ.

The Apostle John describes these desires or cravings of our former life without Christ as the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-16). The devil tempted Eve in all three areas (Genesis 3) and also Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He will so tempt us.

Therefore, we are to carefully and biblically evaluate our thinking, our seeing and our attitude of entitlement in every area of life and living. It is often easy to justify a sinful act or thought because of momentary pleasure or to a sense that we deserve what it is that we desire. Many an individual, family and church has been devastated by such a lapse of self-control.

The Apostle Paul echoes Peter’s words in Romans 12:1-2. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27) today in everything you encounter with an attitude of non-conformity to the fallen world system. Instead, be obedient to Christ by a daily renewal of your mind in God’s Word.

Soli deo Gloria!

More Precious Than Gold

 “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).

What is the result of 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.

In the midst of this revelation, Peter inserts a dependent clause illustrating the importance and value of an individual believer’s faith in Christ. God views our trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Him through Jesus Christ as being “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire.”

Peter distinguished the believer’s purified faith with purified gold. Faith is more precious, or of greater value, than gold. Even purified gold, though it lasts quite a long time, eventually deteriorates and loses its value (cf. 1 Peter 1:18; cf. James 5:3). It will be without value in eternity. But faith in Christ is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:4).

Even believers in Christ can often evaluate worth by something as temporary as gold. How often do we see commercials touting the value of this precious metal and how important it is to possess it? In God’s eyes, your faith in Christ is far more valuable and eternal. Regard your faith in Christ today as something precious. It truly is! Today read Matthew 6.

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.

Grace & Peace

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (I Peter 1:2b).

One of the most familiar phrases found in the New Testament Scriptures, particularly in the epistles, is grace and peace. The Apostle Paul uses this expression in various forms in all of his writings. So too does the Apostle Peter. This was a common greeting during the first century.

Grace, meaning unmerited favor from God to sinful man unto salvation, was an important word for Peter. He used it ten times in this epistle ((1 Peter 1:2, 10, 13; 2:19–20; 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12). Grace is not only the basis for God saving sinners, but also for conforming us to be more like Christ.

Peace is freedom from worry. Peace is not necessarily tranquility because of our circumstances, but rather often in spite of our circumstances. Also, notice that the word grace always precedes peace. Peace is a result of God’s kindness and goodwill and not the other way around. We do not make peace with God and therefore earn His grace. Rather, He by his grace choses to save sinners resulting in peace (Romans 5:1).

What Peter is saying is that he hopes that believers, because of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, will recognize God’s abundant and multiplied grace in their lives. This grace is not just God’s work in saving them from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin resulting in peace.

The Lord is continually at work in our hearts and souls, whether we recognize it or not. Hopefully, because of this passage, we will remember and thank Him for His faithfulness to complete the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

Have a blessed day as you worship the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Elect & Scattered

“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:” (I Peter 1:2a).

Yesterday we read from I Peter 1:1 that believers are elect or chosen exiles who are often scattered because of their faith in Christ. What is the basis and purpose of these identifying marks of the believer?

Peter says that believers in Christ are elect and scattered exiles because of the foreknowledge of God the Father. This foreknowledge is not only knowledge before something occurs, but also it means to be for-ordained.

God’s foreknowledge refers to His predetermined plan to not only save sinners by grace alone, but to also conform believers to the image and character of Christ (Romans 8:28-30). God often does this through difficulties which help mature us. Our persecutions are not mere chances of impersonal fate, but rather the result of the predetermined plan by our loving and sovereign God.

Peter also says that believers are elect and scattered exiles in the sanctification of the Spirit. The word Spirit specifically refers to the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is growing in holiness. The purpose of persecution is so believers will increasingly become separate from sin and conformed to the holy character of God.

Finally, Peter says that believers are elect and scattered exiles for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. Obedience means to hear and be submissive to God’s Word (Ex. 24:7; Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 16:26). The blood sprinkling is reminiscent of the Old Testament priestly work at the tabernacle (Lev. 7:14; 14:7, 16, 51; 16:14–15; cf. Heb. 9:13; 12:24), which resulted in obedience on the part of the people.

When you face difficulties, remember the three-fold work of the Trinity in your soul. May these truths give you the strength and courage to persevere.

Soli deo Gloria!

Elect Exiles

“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” (I Peter 1:1b).

From the very outset of his epistle, the Apostle Peter identifies believers by three specific words: elect, exiles and scattered (of the Dispersion). The purpose of using these words was to comfort and encourage Christians facing persecution for their faith. What was true of Peter’s original audience remains true today.

First, believers are elect. The word elect comes from the Greek word ἐκλεκτός (eklektos) meaning chosen. Throughout the New Testament, believers in Christ are identified as ones chosen by God unto salvation (Mt. 22:14; Mk. 13:20; Lk. 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2Ti. 2:10; 1Pe. 2:9; Rev. 17:14). Believers in Christ are God’s elect. This is not by chance or human decision but rather by God’s sovereign, unconditional and gracious choice made before the foundation of the world (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:3-4).

Second, believers are exiles (parepidēmois). The word means alien, sojourner, stranger or temporary resident. Christians are therefore chosen exiles who live in this world only for a relatively brief period of time. This is because this world is not their eternal home.

Thirdly, believers are scattered (diasporas) or dispersed ones. This word, much as it is used in James 1:1, refers to Christians who had been scattered like salt due to increasing persecution by non-believers. Within the context of I Peter, the believers to whom he was writing were scattered in five Roman Provinces which comprise much of modern day Turkey.

Today, believers in Christ continue to be chosen exiles who are often scattered like salt because of their faith. Rejoice and rest today in the truth that your salvation, from beginning to end and everything in between, is a sovereign work of God.

Remember, God is in control not only in what you experience as a Christian, but also that you are a Christian!

Soli deo Gloria!

What Is An Apostle? (pt. 2)

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

Peter was not his own man. He belonged to someone who ruled him, used him and was glorified by him. Peter belonged to Jesus. Jesus was who Peter obeyed, served and sought to glorify. By no means was Peter perfect, but neither are we.

The name Jesus means Savior, while the title Christ means anointed One. Peter belonged to and served the One who saved his soul and was Lord of his life.

The Apostle Paul shares this same thought in I Corinthians 6:19-20 which says, “19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Too often today, the church is focused more upon itself than the Lord. Churches seek to find unique ways to bolster their attendance, make worship more entertaining or fill the pulpit with so-called rock star communicators rather than entrust the numerical growth of the church to God (I Corinthians 3:5-9), ensure worship is done in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and that men who fill the pulpit are preaching the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1-5) and not just sharing entertaining stories.

As one pastor explains, “Over the past, few decades, we have seen many silly and irreverent things introduced into worship to draw a crowd and keep people entertained. To do such things, however, is to play with fire. We must follow God’s prescriptions for worship.”

Believers are called to serve and worship Christ, and not the other way around. We belong to Him. He is our Master. Let us serve Him.

Soli deo Gloria!