Freedom as an excuse

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2.16

The concept of freedom can be a selfish one. The world’s concept of freedom is that one can do as one wants no matter the consequences to others. Freedom is often used as an excuse for wrong behavior.

Peter wrote to live as free people. But, this freedom is one that allows us a choice to fear God and respect him. If we have respect for God, we will obey him.

In obeying God, he wants us to live in submission to government authorities as long as they do not go against God’s will. There is a reason for this. God wants his people to live correctly, doing good so that foolish people, who speak ignorantly, will be silenced, 2.15.

Choice. Christians choose to be God’s slaves. We choose to obey rather than to rebel. We choose to do good to others rather than to cheat them or tear them down. We choose to share the gospel with others rather than to hoard it for ourselves. Our freedom comes in the choice.

#risingjoy #1-Peter #freedom

More valuable than gold

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1.7-9

Our faith is more valuable than gold that has been purified by fire. Yet, it is not something that will last. For faith when Jesus is revealed will pass away for it will become something that is concrete.

How can you love someone that you have never seen? Or believe in a place that you have never been? We actually do that all the time. I believe that George Washington existed because of all the historical documents that have been written that point to his existence. I have never been to Europe or Africa, but I have seen pictures that others have taken. I know that these places exist even though I have never been personally.

How do I know that Jesus exists? I know that he exists by faith. How do I get faith? It comes from what is heard, Romans 10.17. The Bible is God’s word, his revelation to man. It tells of Jesus, of his life and of his mission. His mission was to give salvation to man through his sacrifice on the cross. His life was one of obedience to God in all things. I believe based upon the testimony of others.

Do you have faith? How valuable is it?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #faith

They give up on living

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2.9-10

So many people feel unimportant. They feel they have no purpose in this life and often give up on living.

Peter describes a beautiful picture of God’s people. It states who we are and what our purpose is. We are a chosen race. God chose obedience as the door for his people to enter. Not everyone is a child of God, for only those who have met the conditions can claim that distinction.

We are a royal priesthood and a holy nation. We are separated or set apart from the world. Those who have entered into Jesus Christ and become a part of his body make up his people.

But perhaps the most important thing of all is that we have a purpose. We are to proclaim the virtues of God. We are to share our path to the light to act as a guide for those who are still engulfed in the same darkness from which we have been called out. We are important. You are important. You have a purpose. Are you fulfilling it?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #purpose

Worth continuing?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. 1 Peter 4.1-2

Do you live in the past? Do you look back and wish that things could go back the way they were? As Christians we are to be like Jesus since it is his name that we bear. Christ suffered a horrible death that brought unimaginable pain. The pain was not only physical but emotional and spiritual as well. For a moment in time, he was separated from the Father, not because of sins that he had committed, but because of our sins.

Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering and questioning whether it was worth continuing. He gives Christ as the example to follow. We need to arm ourselves for battle to continue faithfully with the same attitude that Christ had.

What attitude did Christ have? He did not go about sinning, but he had one objective and that was to complete the will of the Father, Matthew 26.39. He was obedient to God. Hebrews 5.8 tells us that he learned that obedience through suffering.

Jesus spent his time on earth teaching others about God. He focused on a central thing and that was the will of God. He did not allow himself to be dominated by human desires although he was entirely human. God was his priority.

What about our time here on the earth? Do we spend it lamenting on the way things were and the sinful activities we participated in? Are we still living a life that is dictated by our sinful desires? Or have we adopted the attitude of Christ? Is God our priority?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #attitude

The same encouragement applies

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit. And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3.10-12

Peter quotes Psalm 34 in these verses. The same encouragement applies today.

If you want to love life and see good days, be honest and speak only what is good. At times, our tongue can get us into bad situations. We do not always measure our words with care. James 3 compares the tongue to a fire that can flame out of control and wreak havoc.

Not only are our words important, so are our actions. Turn away from evil and do good. Not only must I do good, I must resist evil by turning away from it. That is very different from walking on the edge to see how close we can come to sinning and get away with it. By that time, we may have already committed it in our hearts.

One last thing Peter mentions here. We must seek peace and pursue it. That is acting towards peace and not stirring up the waters even more. Ephesians 4 says that we are to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No one said that it was easy.

However, we can be assured that our efforts will not go unseen. For the eyes of God himself will see and his ears will hear the prayers that are lifted up to him.

#risingjoy #1-Peter #encouragement

A decision to seek what is good for others

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1.22-23

As Christians, we are called to love one another. This is not the love known by the world for it is not an emotion. It is a decision to seek what is good for others. Imagine for a moment how that would change our world.

But it is hard for mankind to think in such a manner for we are selfish creatures. We are unable within ourselves to love this way. However, our souls have been purified by obeying the truth that is found in God’s word, making it possible to love one another earnestly.

If we have obeyed the truth, we have been born anew. God’s word is compared to a seed in the parable of the sower, Luke 8.11. Here Peter describes it as imperishable. God’s word is living and enduring. This seed planted in our hearts will give us the ability to love one another from a pure heart.

#risingjoy #1-Peter #love

After you suffer for a while

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5.10

Suffering. Nobody likes it. No one wants to suffer. Sometimes when a person becomes a Christian, they think that their suffering is over. Life is going to become a bed of rose petals. Yet the Bible teaches differently. Mathew 5.11 teaches that a person is happy or blessed when they are persecuted for righteousness. Persecution is suffering. God allowed Satan to take everything from Job: his family, his wealth, and his health. That is suffering. In Acts 5.17-41 we read where the apostles are put in prison and eventually beaten. But they left the council rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. James tells us in James 1. 2-4 that the testing of our faith (suffering) produces endurance and endurance helps us to mature and be perfect or complete in our faith, not lacking in anything. Whenever we are suffering, our attitude should be one of joy. We should search for the lesson that we are to learn and grow from the situation. Did you notice what happens after you suffer for a little while? God will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. That is cause for rising joy!

#risingjoy #1-Peter #suffering

God of all grace, 1 Peter 5.10

“And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

1 Peter 5.10

The Worldwide English version translates “God of all grace” as “God gives all blessings.” All that is good comes from God and is found in Christ.

Suffering brings us to the God of all grace. We find in him our “fount of every blessing.” We obey and are faithful, but the work of saving and establishing is his.

#votd #1-Peter #God

Serve one another, 1 Peter 4.10

“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”

1 Peter 4.10

Every single Christian receives gifts to be put to use in the body of Christ. To be a good steward, one must use them to serve the saints.

God is a giver. From his varied grace, he gives me a gift of some sort to serve. What is that gift? How can it be used? What needs are there in the body that it can meet?

#votd #1-Peter #gifts

Finally, all of you

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

1 Peter 3.8 ESV

The first step to avoid returning evil with evil is to develop a loving relationship in the family of faith. Peter cites five qualities in chiastic form, with brotherly love as the central element.

Am I motivated by the best intentions? Do I speak loving words? Do kindness and tenderness mark my interactions? Is my goal to understand and appreciate my brother?

#votd #1-Peter #love

Yearn like newborn infants: 1 Peter 2.1-3

“So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness.”

1 Peter 2.1-3

Growth is in the direction of salvation. Without growth, no one can be saved. There are no spiritual infants in heaven. The way to growth is through the word of God.

If you are not growing spiritually, only one solution is possible: repentance. How to yearn for God’s word? Start reading it!

#votd #Bible #1-Peter

I’ve been without Internet at the offic…

I’ve been without Internet at the office all morning, finally called the company, and, though the promised tech guy has yet to appear, perhaps he fiddled in the field to get service restored.

I loved Phil’s comparison of the gospels to his four daughters. It’s certainly a hard choice to make, if indeed we ought to show a preference to a book of the Bible, but today’s Daily Nudge asks (OK, so I’m behind the nudging), so here goes.

While the gospels do hold a special place, since they reveal so many details of our Lord’s life, I’m going to go with 1 Peter. Unlike Paul, Peter — not unlike Mark, who supposedly represents his perspective — in his first epistle is compact, but chocked full of detail. His letter is dense, like the short, trimmed lawn grass with a thick carpet of green blades. I like that, suppose it fits my style or something, or his emphases touch on my needs.

I reserve the right to swap out later, but for now, 1 Peter is my choice.

#1-peter, #bible, #nt