Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I Peter Chapter 1
- Peter is writing to Christians who are foreigners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
- God chose us long ago. Before the earth was formed, God already had a plan for us. God KNEW us long ago. Knew us before we were formed... before we were born...
- Jeremiah 1:4-5
- Psalm 139:1-24
- Because of this, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by His blood and been born again!
- Romans 6:20-23
- footnote- “The term “born again” refers to spiritual birth (regeneration)—the Holy Spirit's act of bringing believers into God's family. Jesus used this concept of new birth when He explained salvation to Nicodemus (John 3). This term is a wonderful metaphor of new life from God. You cannot be a Christian without a fresh beginning based on the salvation Christ brings. To be born again is a magnificent gift from God.”
- Are you thankful? Grateful? Show it! Prove your thankfulness by your obedience out of love.
- Hebrews 12:22-29
- Glory to God! It is by HIS great mercy that we have been born again! God raised Christ from the dead in order to further this purpose!
- Because of this, we can live with great expectation. Expectation of what? Our inheritance! We've been adopted into the family! We are heirs with Christ!
- Colossians 1:3-14
- Where is this inheritance? In heaven. It is kept pure and undefiled. It is beyond the reach of change and decay. God is keeping it safe and perfect and out of reach from any who would damage it in any way.
- God is protecting US by His power until we receive this full salvation through faith (Which isn't until the last day... because it says “until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” So this isn't the salvation we know now... but rather the full salvation that comes with our dying to this physical world and the culmination or the fulfillment of
Protecting us from what? Sickness? Sorrow? Pain? How about from falling into the hands of the enemy... We have this great salvation prepared for us... kept for us... And God is protecting our soul from the enemy. When we face spiritual trials, we can be sure that God will give us strength to fight the battles. (if we ask Him for it.)
It is ready to be revealed to us on the last day... but not before. What is all this then?
Footnote- “The Jews had looked forward to an inheritance in the Promised Land of Canaan. Although the nation had received that right of inheritance, eventually they defiled their faith through the influence of foreign nations. The people's sins had caused the promise to become only a fading memory. Christians now look forward to another inheritance, a “priceless” inheritance—eternal life in the eternal city of God. God has reserved the inheritance; it will never fade or decay; it will be unstained by sin. The best part is that YOU have an inheritance if you have trusted Christ as your Savior.”
- John 10:25-30
- Romans 5:1-11
- So be glad. Even though you might be enduring trials now... there is a wonderful joy ahead. Yeah it may not come until you die and reach your eternal reward, but it is coming... for sure and for certain.
- So why do we have these trials? Why does God allow us to have trouble in our lives? Why isn't everything just peachy all the time? Because these trials show that our faith is genuine.
- Peter uses the analogy of purifying gold to talk about trials and testing.
- There's a story about a silver refiner... A man was watching a guy refine the silver and he had to heat it up and so on and the man watching asked the guy refining how he knew when it was ready... “When I can see my reflection in it.”
- When God allows our faith to be tested, it is so our impurities can be spotted and skimmed out. Pure Gold is clear. You can see right through it. When our heart's condition is pure... our life will be transparent. God will be shining through to people on the other side in a powerfully magnificent way.
- But in order to purify gold or silver... it has to be put through the fire. It has to be boiled and red hot over and over again.
- To purify our lives, sometimes we have to be tested with fire. Sometimes we have to be put in a hot spot for God to be able to work with us. He desperately wants to see His reflection in us... but we have to not only let Him work in our hearts... sometimes... we have to accept third degree burns...
- Job 23:1-14
- Isaiah 48:8-11
- footnote- “... All Believers face such trials when they let their light shine into the darkness. We must accept trials as part of the refining process that burns away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ. As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off. Likewise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions refine and strengthen our faith, making us useful to God. Instead of asking, “Why me?” we should respond to suffering with a new set of responses:
1. CONFIDENCE that God knows, plans, and directs our lives for the good. It's hard to calculate sometimes, but God always provides His love and strength for us. God leads us toward a better future.
2. PERSERVERANCE when facing grief, anger, sorrow, and pain. We express our grief, but we don't give in to bitterness and despair.
3. COURAGE because with Jesus as Brother and Savior, we need not be afraid. He who suffered for us will not abandon us. Jesus carries us through everything.”
- Peter says our faith is more precious than mere gold. I love that. That is such a neat way to put it. Our faith... is more precious to God than the most precious metal...
- Faith is not learned overnight. Faith is an automatic response to life that is a growing response. When you are a little kid, your automatic response is not to share. If you have a toy, you want to keep it all to yourself. Sharing is a learned response to a given environment.
- Faith has to have instruction and discipline and correction in order to grow. And once you learn something new, most of the time, your knowledge in some way has to be tested. If you're in school, you learn something, and a couple weeks later, you have a test on the subject. If you're not going to be tested, what's the point in learning it in the first place? In order to want to retain knowledge, you have to have a reason to need it... otherwise, you forget the lesson after a time. And if you don't retain the first knowledge... you can't build on it to go any further.
- So what's the point in having strong faith? So we can boast in our faith and how strong we are? No! So that it will bring great praise and glory and honor on the day when Christ is revealed to the whole world!
- When is that? The last day...
- This sounds really hard. Part of this implies that we may never see an easy side to life until after we die. It also implies that when hard things come, God has allowed them in our lives for a purpose. Which brings to mind a lot of questions... like... why would a loving God allow bad things? Or hard things? Or things that almost break us?
- But we have to see the bigger picture. We have to allow God to work (most of the time without an inkling of what He's planning or doing...) and accept our situation and our present place... even if it's a hard one.
- In our weakness, He is strong. In our desperation, He is peace. When we become small... God becomes big. Huge. Larger than our minds can comprehend. He becomes our All in All. Our Rock to cling to. Our Salvation from all ill. Our Father Who heals all wounds.
- Our faith is built on trust. We love God even though we've never seen Him. We can't see Him. But even though we can't see Him, we still trust Him. We rejoice in Him with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Our reward for trusting Him is the salvation of our souls.
- footnote- “Jesus had said to His disciple Thomas, who came to believe after touching the resurrected Christ: “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29). Peter, having heard those words, repeats them here: “You love Him even though you have never seen Him.” That faith brings both salvation and the promise of a day when pain will end and perfect justice begin. Faith will be rewarded and evil will be punished. But what should we do until then? The Bible's answer is simple but not easy: Because we know the future, we must faithfully serve God here and now. If today that means resolving a conflict, mending a hurt, working a dull job, confronting a belligerent child, rebuilding a marriage, or just waiting for guidance—do it all with the joy of God, who will return with His reward!”
- John 20:19-29
- II Corinthians 5:6-10
- Peter says look at the faith of the prophets. This salvation was something they yearned for. Something they strove to reach. And never did. They spoke about something entirely unseen. Something intangible. Were persecuted for preaching the gospel as yet unfulfilled. Yet they trusted God with their very lives. Knowing that the message was not for them, their generation, and possibly not for many generations, they still trusted and pressed forward with the mission.
- Matthew 13:13-17
- Isaiah 53
- II Peter 1:12-21
- Can we today comprehend this? How much could they have wondered at their own messages? How many times did they pray for more understanding? How many times did they speculate and wonder at the awesomeness of God? How many times did they ask to see confirmation or proof of their own messages.
- Peter says look. Now the message has been announced! You know the message! You know the God of whom it speaks! You know His Son Jesus! This time is so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching things happen. Can you imagine this time?
- Everything was new... Christianity was unfolding. A new faith was being birthed in God's people unlike any other before it. Even the angels were so excited at the new things that were happening that they had to take a moment and watch it happen...
- We now have the responsibility to preach with faith like that of the prophets. To preach about things not fulfilled. Things not wholly understood. We understand more maybe than the prophets did... They preached about a coming Messiah... we preach a risen Savior, a Messiah who came and now lives within... but we still have to preach about a kingdom unseen, a God not seen, an afterlife not understood, a new life process that blows the mind...
- II Corinthians 5:11-21
- Romans 12:1-21
- We have the Gospel message of Christ to spread to the world. Do we understand it all? Definitely not. Will we ever? Maybe in 10,000 years after we've spent every second at the feet of Christ learning all He has to teach... but probably not even then...
- Romans 8:26-30
- Jeremiah 29:10-14
- So because we are called to be witnesses and called to be a light to the world, we need to do a few things...
- Exercise self-control. Like in anger right? Well yeah... but anger's just the tip of the ice berg. Everybody always thinks of self-control and automatically thinks anger....
- Self-control means limiting your bodily flesh in every area that could be a problem. There's an idea in teaching that if you can teach a child a concept and then relate that concept to a second concept, that they will retain knowledge about the both concepts better and that the second concept will be easier to learn.
- For instance... A child is taught that cups can be filled with water. If given a tub and the tub is also filled with water, then the child is taught that things with sides can be filled with water. Hence, a bowl can also be filled with water.
- So if you practice self-control in anger, you also need to practice self-control in... eating, or gossiping, or sexual or physical interaction with boyfriends/girlfriends/people you're not married to, gambling, watching too much TV, playing too many video games... etc etc etc. Anything that takes your time and attention away from God and causes you eventually to stray from the walk? Is a bad thing... Or anything that causes someone else to look at your witness and say... “well how Christ-like is that?”
- I remember a story once of a guy who was at a bar with his friends watching a football game... He was cussing and drinking and yelling along with the rest of them. And so after the game this girl is in the bar and she starts talking to him, and she asked him if he wanted to go home with her... his response? “I don't DO that! I'm a Christian!” Her response? “Well so am I, but what's that got to do with it?” And even in his slightly tipsy haze... this guy started to realize that something was off with this picture...
- So whatever your vice may be whether it's porn or food or anger or alcohol... if it makes people look at your life and say... THEY'RE a CHRISTIAN???? it needs to be controlled.
- We must live as God's obedient children because of this gracious salvation He has so preciously bought for us... Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires.
- Self and Flesh constantly get in the way of your walk. They are constantly throwing things in your face to try and make you fall. And sometimes, we let them push us down. We fall right back into that old life because it feels comfortable and natural... We don't have to fight so much. But it's kinda like the man stranded in the ocean. He has to FIGHT to keep his head above water... is it easier to stop fighting and sink to the bottom? Yeah! Much less muscle fatigue and mental agony... but you're losing your life! Is it worth losing your life for 3 minutes of apathetic rest?
- Ephesians 2:1-10, 4:17-32
- II Timothy 4:1-8
- Mercy Me has a song called “So Long Self”. The chorus says: “So long, Self. Well, it's been fun, but I have found Somebody Else. So long, Self, There's just no room for two, So you are gonna have to move. So long, Self, Don't take this wrong but you are wrong for me, farewell. Oh well, goodbye, don't cry. So long, Self.” And that's the approach we have to take. Things that aren't good for us? Get rid of them. Self just has to move over and make way for the new Self. God living in us.
- I sent out an email a while ago after I got back from Ichthus... Some of you may remember this...
- Peter refers back Leviticus 11:44-45 where God said “You must be holy because I am holy.” Because the God who chose us is holy and we are to be living reflections of Him... we must be holy as well. But “I'm not even close to holy!” None of us are... except through Christ living and working in us... (gold/silver refiner...)
- God didn't say “be okay, or as good as you can be, or meet par, just as I am okay, or good, or just meet par”... He said be ye HOLY.
- Webster's definition of “holy” is something that is “set apart for religious use; connected with religion or God; sacred”
- Philippians 4:4-9
- I Thessalonians 4:1-12
- I John 3:1-10
- Set apart for God. Which means we're not used for anything else. If we are defiled in someway... God can't use us. We can't be used for religious service AND daily use... A vessel that was used for daily use couldn't be used for service unto God. If we allow ourselves to be used by the world... God can't use us the way He wants...
- And sacred? Gosh... to think of ourselves as sacred is a little odd feeling... But it still relates back to being set apart for God and not allowing ourselves to be defiled by things not of God.
- footnote- “Peter's words mean that all parts of our lives and character should be in the process of becoming conformed, both inwardly and outwardly, to God's standards. After people commit their lives to Christ, they sometimes still feel a pull back to their old ways. Peter tells us to be like our heavenly Father—holy in everything we do. Holiness means being totally devoted to God, set aside for His special use and set apart from sin and its influence. We're to be set apart and different, not blending in with the crowd, yet not being different just for the sake of being different. God's qualities in our lives make us different. Our focus and priorities must be His. All this is in direct contrast to our old ways. We cannot become holy on our own, but God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us power to overcome sin. Don't use the excuse that you can't help slipping into sin. Rely on God's power to free you from sin's grip.”
- This all sounds harsh and it sounds hard... but the point is that God doesn't want used goods. God wants perfection. Will we ever get there? Not until we die and come into our incorruptible bodies in an incorruptible kingdom. But we still have to strive for that goal.
- God has no favorites. He will judge according to what we do. Our actions show our heart's condition. So we must live in reverent fear of God.
- footnote- “'Reverent fear' is the healthy respect of a believer for the all-powerful God. Because God is the Judge of all the earth, we dare not ignore Him or treat Him casually. We should not assume that our privileged status as God's children gives us freedom to do whatever we want. We should not be spoiled children but grateful children who love to show respect for our heavenly Father.”
- He paid a ransom to save us from the empty life we inherited from our ancestors. He didn't just pay our ransom in gold or silver... He paid it in blood. Christ shed His blood. Sinless, spotless Lamb of God stretched out to die on a tree for YOU. This was the plan from the beginning. A way to ransom the world from their sin. A way to have relationship with Almighty God. This has been revealed to us through Christ.
- Hebrews 9:11-28
- footnote- “A slave was “ransomed” when someone paid money to buy his or her freedom. God ransomed us from the tyranny of sin, not with money, but with the precious blood of His own Son. We cannot escape from sin on our own; only the life of God's Son can free us.
- Romans 6:1-11
- I Corinthians 6:12-20
- Colossians 2:11-15
- And the thing is... that this was the plan from the beginning... God planned this out before He created Adam... before He set the world in motion... He loved you SO much that He chose, before He ever created you, to DIE for you. To die in YOUR place. What love is this? The greatest of all...
- footnote- “Christ's sacrifice for our sins was not an afterthought, not something God decided to do when the world spun out of control. This plan was set in motion by the all-knowing, eternal God long before the world was created. What a comfort it must have been to Jewish believers to know that Christ's coming and His work of salvation were planned by God long before the world began. This assured them that the law was not being scrapped because it didn't work but that both the law AND the coming of Christ were part of God's eternal plan.”
- Ephesians 3:6-11
- Because of Christ, we have come to trust in God. We have placed our faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory.
- Romans 4:13-25
- Without Christ's sacrifice, we wouldn't be able to put our faith and hope fully in God. We have a full salvation through Christ.
- We were cleansed from sin when we obeyed the truth. Notice he doesn't say when we accepted Christ as our savior... Just saying that yeah... “Christ was the Messiah”... doesn't cut it. We also have to follow through and obey.
- So because we have been cleansed from our sin, we must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.
- footnote- “'Sincere love' involves selfless giving; a self-centered person can't truly love. God's love and forgiveness free you to take your eyes off yourselves and to meet others' needs. By sacrificing His life, Christ showed that He truly loves you. Now you can love others by following His example and giving of yourself sacrificially.”
- Love each other deeply with all your heart... Not just in surface actions... but DEEPLY with ALL your heart...
- John 13:34-35
- We have been born again, but not to a life that will end soon. Rather, our NEW life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living Word of God.
- John 1:10-13
- Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8. People are like grass or flowers... they're here for a moment and then they fade away and are gone... BUT the Word of the Lord remains forever. This is what has been preached to us and what we are to spread further. The Word of God... which will never disappear or change or shift...
- Hebrews 4:12-13
- footnote- “...We must stop grasping the temporary and begin focusing our time, money, and energy on the permanent: the Word of God and our eternal life in Christ.”