Peter

28 Days - Day 10

Jesus modeled what it means to be humble before God.  He who had every right and position made Himself nothing so that the Father’s will would be accomplished.  In Ephesians Paul tells us that we are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece…He is working on us to make us into the image and likeness of His Son.  If that is the case then we must reflect the nature and character of Jesus.  That means we must humble ourselves and choose God’s way instead of our own.  Prideful people choose their way over God’s because they believe that their way is better for them, but as Jesus demonstrated we must give up our rights and position and humble ourselves before God.

Peter puts it this way…

1 Peter 5:5-6 (NIV)
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 

Just as God exalted Jesus because of His humble submission to the Father so too God will lift us up in due time.  

 

Lord break the pride and self-centeredness that I am so prone to and help me to walk humbly before you.


2 Peter 3

SCRIPTURE  
11 Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God...

OBSERVATION
Don't pin your hopes for a meaningful life on stuff that will be gone tomorrow.

UNDERSTANDING
I remember the 8-track player.  As a kid I wanted one badly so that we could listen to music in the car instead of just the radio.  Finally my dad had one installed in the car and I remember driving down the road listening to the cool sounds of Neil Diamond on the 8-track.  The 8-track is long dead and it is a reminder to us that as with most every material thing in this life - they will not last.  Peter tells us that the day is coming when Jesus will return.  We don't know when but that is not the issue, the real issue is our preparedness should He return today.  When Jesus returns all of the material stuff will be obsolete because it is not what the new heaven and earth is composed of.  So if we are wise we need to invest more in the stuff that will last for eternity.  That happens as we live lives that are holy and dedicated to God. 

LIFE APPLICATION
The sad fact is that many of us get sidetracked with the peripherals - the stuff that will not last - and lost sight of the big picture.  So many believers are so caught up in making money to build earthly empires that we never have time for the real mission - living lives that are holy and dedicated to God.  Don't let it happen.  Wake up and realize that you have been sidetracked and get back to the business of living holy and dedicated lives to God.

Have you been sidetracked?  What do you need to do to get back on the right track?


1 Peter 4

Suffering for the cause of Christ is something that should be embraced not something we should run from. 

Peter tells us that Christ suffered for us in the flesh and as His followers we are to expect to follow in His footsteps.  But the truth is, in America, we are not faced with the kind of suffering that many Christians both now and in the past have faced.  Generally, we do not suffer and die because of our faith here in America. 

But this passage still holds an admonition for us.  While we are not persecuted for our faith there is still a degree of suffering that we must face - it is the suffering of dying to ourselves. 

Jesus tells us that anyone who would want to be His disciple must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow.  That understanding of taking up your cross when spoken in His time clearly meant execution on a cross.  Jesus' listeners understood that to be a disciple meant that they were to confess Jesus as Lord and then live out the implications of Him being Lord, even if that meant death.

For us the confession of Jesus as Lord may not automatically result in death in America but the truth is it causes great suffering as we must choose to let the old nature remain dead.  We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge and resolution that in order to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Christ will require great sacrifice as we die to ourselves. 
We must strengthen our resolve to do what God wants not the evil things that the world wants us to do. 
We must not waste our time doing what the old (dead) nature wanted to do: always getting drunk, having wild and excessive parties and living extravagantly wasteful lives. 
Our new life of surrender to Christ as Lord should not be approached as a chore but with joy that we are getting to share in the Master's sufferings and one of the best ways we can die to ourselves is by serving others. 
Serve others by praying for them. 
Serve others by loving them deeply and forgiving them. 
When God blesses you with material blessings then be generous with it and don't just keep it for yourself. 

We may not be dying for our faith in America but we are still called to die for the sake of serving Christ our Lord.  Let us die to ourselves and let us do so with glad hearts because it is by God's grace we have been saved and out of the overflow of gratitude we are willing to give our lives completely to the One who saved us.


1 Peter 3

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Peter is encouraging the church to stand firm in the face of rising persecution and suffering.  Very soon after writing this letter the believers faced tremendous persecution at the hand of the Roman Emperor Nero.  To encourage them to stand firm Peter reminds them that they are chosen and called of God and that their troubles here are temporary but their reward is an eternal, heavenly inheritance. Then he began to give them specific instructions on how to conduct themselves in the hostile environment in which they lived.  He urges them to live righteous lives so that they would be credible witnesses.  Their responses to ill treatment were important.  In the midst of suffering we are to respond properly to the unbelievers in government, in the workplace and even the unbelieving spouse. But our response with other believers are important as well.  It helps to encourage them so he tells us that we are to live in harmony in believers, having the right attitude towards each other. 

To live in harmony is the understanding of working together in unity, each person contributing their part so that we can accomplish the work of the Master. 
Be sympathetic: learn to identify with the pain of others.  Share in their sorrows and their joys.  Don't be insensitive and indifferent.  Don't start by trying to teach them what they did wrong but come up alongside one another and identify with their struggle first.
Love as brothers: As believers we must realize that the family of God is as important as our earthly family.  Demonstrate love towards them by making them a high priority, by serving them unselfishly and accepting them unconditionally.
Be compassionate:  much like being sympathetic.  We feel the pain of our brothers and sisters so much so that it moves us to action.
Be humble:  in other words. be others-minded.

This simple list is a great reminder of what our GROW groups are built on.  As we live in a hostile world we need a place where we can experience safety, security and encouragement.  A place where we work together in harmony.  A place where we can experience sympathy and compassion.  A place where we experience God's unconditional love with people who put the needs of others above their own needs. Why not give it a try?


1 Peter 2

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

“The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say that they belong to God's family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ” 
Alexander MacLaren

As Peter continues his letter he continues to tell his readers that while as Christians we should expect that we will be persecuted and experience suffering, our response to that suffering makes a world of difference to unbelievers and a proper response to the suffering will make a great foundation for making the gospel believable and attractive to them.

In exhorting them to live holy lives before unbelievers he starts by saying that it must be an inside job that manifests itself with outside actions.  It all starts with Christ redeeming us and the Holy Spirit regenerating us.  That regeneration produces a new godly nature with holy longings.  But that new life remains imprisoned in the old, unredeemed, human container.  As a result a war begins to rage.  Having become aliens in this world we must still live in this world but we must resist the sinful desires that are in direct opposition to our heavenly nature.  The fact that Peter says to abstain gives us the understanding that we have the ability, in  Christ, to restrain the human container, even though the world keeps telling us that we cant.  Peter goes on to paint the picture that the world is relentless - it wages war - a continual process of which we must be aware.  It is not a one-time battle but a war that will continue till we leave these earthly, sinful bodies behind.

And our motivation for all of this...so that God may be glorified and that a cynical and attentive world may see Christ in us and come to glorify and worship Him. 

Our response to suffering and persecution can make a world of difference to a watchful, unbelieving world.


1 Peter 1

Salvation - what a loaded word for us as believers.  We are saved!  But from what? 

Is it saved from a life of poverty?  saved from any suffering?  Is it saved from hard times and persecution?  I don't think so.  The more I read the Bible the more I realize that suffering and hardships are a part of the life of any believer. 

As we embark on reading this letter Peter penned, we must realize that he wrote this book with the understanding that persecution and hard times were a part of the Christian walk.  They persecuted Jesus, why do we think that we would be exempt?  Shortly after writing his letter the Emperor Nero launched a large scale attack on Christians.  Looking for a scapegoat to take the public's attention away from who started the great fire that devastated Rome, Nero placed the blame on the Christians. As a result, they were encased in wax and burned at the stake to light his gardens, crucified, and thrown to wild beasts. Though the official persecution apparently was confined to the vicinity of Rome, attacks on Christians spread unchecked by the authorities to other parts of the Empire. It was as a result of Nero's persecution that both Peter and Paul were martyred.

The salvation that we talk about is the fact that we have been saved from an eternal existence separated from the Creator.  And what a complete work it is, as Peter tells us in verse 2.  We are chosen by the Father, convicted of sin and brought to faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit and all made possible by the blood sacrifice of Jesus. 

As a result of that salvation we must respond by living in the hope of Jesus' coming and by striving to be holy by being obedient and self-controlled.  In other words let us live lives in accordance with our new life of freedom and as children of God, not being surprised by persecutions and hard times but living through it with great hope and faith.

2 Peter 3

SCRIPTURE 
11 Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God...

OBSERVATION
Don't pin your hopes for a meaningful life on stuff that will be gone tomorrow.

UNDERSTANDING
I remember the 8-track player.  As a kid I wanted one badly so that we could listen to music in the car instead of just the radio.  Finally my dad had one installed in the car and I remember driving down the road listening to the cool sounds of Neil Diamond on the 8-track.  The 8-track is long dead and it is a reminder to us that as with most every material thing in this life - they will not last.  Peter tells us that the day is coming when Jesus will return.  We don't know when but that is not the issue, the real issue is our preparedness should He return today.  When Jesus returns all of the material stuff will be obsolete because it is not what the new heaven and earth is composed of.  So if we are wise we need to invest more in the stuff that will last for eternity.  That happens as we live lives that are holy and dedicated to God. 

LIFE APPLICATION
The sad fact is that many of us get sidetracked with the peripherals - the stuff that will not last - and lost sight of the big picture.  So many believers are so caught up in making money to build earthly empires that we never have time for the real mission - living lives that are holy and dedicated to God.  Don't let it happen.  Wake up and realize that you have been sidetracked and get back to the business of living holy and dedicated lives to God.

Have you been sidetracked?  What do you need to do to get back on the right track?


2 Peter 2

In this chapter Peter sketches the character, motives, and appeal of false teachers who threaten the church from within. Their character is seen in their bold, arrogant contempt for authority and exploitation of others. Their motives are revealed in their greed and sexual immorality. Their appeal is to man's baser nature, with promises of a freedom that releases all restraint and results in captivity to sin. The false teacher appeals to many because he seems attractive, strong, and confident. Few resent the material prosperity he craves, for he seems to them deserving of God's blessing. And many respond to his promises of health, material blessing, and freedom from the ills that all human beings are heir to in this sinful world. What a contrast with the servant of God, who all too often seems weak and struggling. Rather than a life of ease, Peter calls Christians to servanthood and even suffering. Bible Reader's Companion.

In trying to discern who is a false teacher and who is not, a believer's best defense is to know the truth. If we have added to our faith, knowledge then that knowledge of what is true will quickly show up the lies and deceit of false teachers. Get to know the truth and allow that to be the measure by which you discern if a teacher is false or not.

 


2 Peter 1

SCRIPTURE
2 Peter 1:3-9 (ETRV) 3 Jesus has the power of God. And his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus chose us by his glory and goodness, 4 through which he also gave us the very great and rich gifts that he promised us. With these gifts you can share in being like God. And so you will escape the ruin that comes to people in the world because of the evil things they want. 5 Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; 6 to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; 7 to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. 8 If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who don't grow in these blessings are blind. They cannot see clearly what they have. They have forgotten that they were cleansed from their past sins.

OBSERVATION
Our own changed lives are the outward evidences of a genuine salvation.

UNDERSTANDING
Peter wrote this letter to help believers face a world filled with subtle spiritual deception. He wanted to remind his readers of the truths he had already taught them, so that those truths would continue to safeguard them after he was gone (v. 15). Peter reminds his readers that it is only by faith we are saved, not because of something we did but because of all that Christ did for us. But then he calls us to "partner" with God. He tells us that we are to "make every effort" to develop the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness to your Christian family and love. He says that faith comes first but from that faith we must make every effort to add to it. God works in us as we do our part and what happens is that the fruit of the spirit is developed in us.

LIFE APPLICATION
Don't debate what part is the Spirit's what part is ours. Act as if the responsibility were all ours knowing that the fruit is all His.  How are you adding to your faith?


1 Peter 5

SCRIPTURE
 In the same way you younger people must submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”

OBSERVATION
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

UNDERSTANDING
Peter has been talking to his audience about all the people we are to submit ourselves to - governing authorities, to our bosses, wives to husbands.  Now he tells the younger believers to submit to older believers, not only out of respect for their age but also out of respect for their spiritual maturity.  Truth is not every "senior" believer is a mature Christian though so we are to be careful who we submit ourselves to in regards to allowing them to direct us towards spiritual maturity.  I love the quote from Chuck Swindoll who says that "some people have been believers for 20 years but it is simply one year repeated 20 times."   For those who are older believers it is our responsibility to ensure that we are growing so that we can be a help to younger believers.

The even bigger admonition though is that we are to submit to each other.  I would imagine that many of the issues we deal with as people would be solved so much more quickly if we took the approach of submitting to each other.  The generation gap would go away as older people submit to younger people and accept the good changes that come with a young generation, and if younger people would submit to older people imagine how many mistakes and heartaches could be avoided.

LIFE APPLICATION
The trick to honoring and respecting each other is that we first and foremost submit to God and follow Jesus' example.  See Philippians 2:1-11 and keep in mind that humility is not demeaning ourselves and thinking poorly of ourselves, it is really the understanding of laying down our rights and putting others above ourselves.  Try it and see what happens.