To Be Determined

21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:21

This is the Gospel message in one sentence. As an unbeliever, you may not understand it when you read it or hear it, but all the elements of the Good News are here.

As Believers, we understand this because every day we renew our hope and faith just by faithfully obeying God’s word and trusting in Him to help us get through each day. Hope and faith in a God we cannot see seems unreasonable. It’s also difficult to explain because faith by its very definition is believing in something you cannot see but believing it exists. We have faith every day in the laws of gravity and physics. We cannot see those laws but we know what happens when we violate those laws. The faith we have in the God we cannot see is just as real as those laws of nature. Going a step further, though, we believe God created those laws.

Brothers and Sisters, keep running that race. Keep the faith in the Man you cannot see to redeem you in a place you cannot see at a time and place yet to be determined.

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For Our Sake

20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 1 Peter 1:20

It’s hard for us to imagine what existed before the creation of the world. I mean, there was nothing. And yet, God the Son was chosen to redeem us long before the world even existed. Then at the right time, Jesus Christ was revealed. Entire libraries have been written about this event and the timing of the event. Of course it was the perfect time. He had nothing to gain by coming to earth. He wouldn’t be rewarded in any way. In fact, just the opposite is true. Jesus Christ is a byword to those who don’t follow Him. His followers are persecuted because they believe in Him.

But He came for our sake. Not His, but ours. He didn’t have to but He did.

That of course has made all the difference in the world for those who call Him Lord. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Occasionally we need to meditate on the deep truths of the Christian faith. This is one of those times.

He came for our sake.

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An Empty Way of Life

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Emptiness. It’s what you see when you look inside an open bag or box. It’s the feeling you have when you’ve worked your entire life for something and there’s no satisfaction once you receive it. Emptiness is what you get when you chase after things and fame and fortune. You really can’t achieve them to your satisfaction because you’ll never be satisfied.

I’m not sure where this quote came from, but it fits: A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.

we like life to be spicy and new and fresh and lively. We get bored and are dissatisfied with the ordinary. But what happens when you are the best of the best, richest, and most famous. Think it would satisfy? Not on your life.

Fortunately, though, our lives were redeemed from the emptiness of life. As we continue to focus in on God, our lives become richer and more meaningful. Take a moment today to bless the Lord for His sacrifice.

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Total Impartiality

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 1 Peter 1:17

When’s the last time you encountered an impartial judge? In court, people hire the best lawyers who know the judges and can skirt the law. The judges may not be doing anything illegally, but the lawyers know the law inside and out and can manipulate evidence and rulings to get the outcome they desire. On the other hand, some judges may be corrupt and are open to those who will pay the most “under the table.” Even in mediation cases, mediators bring bias to their rulings they’re flawed people. Granted, they do their best to eliminate bias whenever they can, but they are still flawed individuals.

When God the Father judges, no one – no one – will be able to question His decisions because those decisions are based on truth and knowing every possible angle. Peter warns us to live our lives in reverent fear, which is different than the fear of not being allowed in heaven. As he said, we’re foreigners here. It’s not our permanent home. Yes, we’re only passing through.

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Still Learning to Lean

15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Apart from God’s grace and power from the Holy Spirit, holiness is an impossible task. On our own, we are weak and powerless. Unless we are actively pursuing the Man who can give us that righteousness and holiness, our efforts will fall short. That’s why the song, “Learning to Lean” comes to mind.

Learning to lean,
I’m learning to lean on Jesus
Finding more power than I’ve ever dreamed
I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

Sad broken-hearted, at an alter I knelt
I found peace that was so serene
And all that He asks is a child like trust
And a heart that is learning to lean

Learning to lean
Learning to lean,
I’m learning to lean on Jesus
Finding more power than I’ve ever dreamed
I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

Holiness is not a one time event, but a consistent and relentless pursuit of Jesus Christ.

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Early and Often

14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14

Peter presents the Do Not Do This side of the proverbial coin to prepare us for the Do This side. We all have desires that are not so Godly. Peter calls them evil. Giving in to these desires and having them master you is what Peter’s warning against. It still as relevant today as it was when he wrote it 2000 years ago.

So how do we master them? How do we keep from giving in? If it were as easy as “just say no,” then nobody would sin. But we all know it’s never that easy because we have many sides tugging at us.

We have to recognize where we are the most vulnerable and take precautions that would prevent us from being placed in those situations. As a silly example, if I felt that every time I talked to James I would certainly gossip, the easiest course of action would be to avoid or minimize interaction with James.

Next, we give it all to Christ over and over again. Satan is out to destroy us, and he will use any means necessary to discourage, entice, and draw you away from God. He knows where you’re the most vulnerable as well.

We all have evil desires. How we deal as they arise with them determines whether we live a victorious life or one of defeat. Running to Christ is always the best course of action.  To paraphrase a Chicago politician: do it early, do it often.

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The Second Coming is Imminent

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

We all the second coming of Jesus Christ is imminent. We don’t know when or how long from now it will be. We do know it’s closer than it’s every been in history.

At that time we’ll receive a different portion of grace. It’s not enough that we have grace in this life, but we are to hope for the grace what what is to come. We won’t understand it when it’s happening so we need grace to handle and accept it (and believe it’s actually occurring). Just like those living when Jesus was alive didn’t understand who He was at first, so it will be for us at his Second Coming.

Wow, can this actually be the moment? I don’t think there will be any question as to the veracity of the moment. But we will need the grace to handle it.

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The Messiah in Our Midst

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Peter 1:10-12

Prior to the virgin birth of Jesus, most devout Jews looked for signs that the Messiah would be coming to them. They searched long and hard, but when He came, they didn’t recognize him. They were expecting something else entirely. A few people “got it” early on such as Simeon and Anna at the temple. Later, as Jesus began to reveal himself, the “Aha! moments” must have been happening faster and faster as people realized that the long-awaited Messiah was the man walking the roads and laughing alongside them. Can you imagine how intimidating that could have been for them? It probably took them a long time to accept it was happening in their midst.

I’ve met a few “famous” people in my time (and some who were infamous). It’s interesting because I can still remember the encounters I had with them: what was said, how I reacted, how long it lasted. Twenty years later the memories are still vivid.

Having a daily encounter with the actual Messiah must have been overwhelming for the average follower. Years later, as they were recalling their encounters in teachings, it would have been very easy to remember what was said and how it was said. They would have remembered nuances of Jesus that you and I would never be able to understand.

Our encounters with the Messiah should be no less memorable. While we do not have the physical man in our midst, He speaks through His Word, and the Holy Spirit illuminates it for us. We need not be intimidated because He is gentle. And as we read the Word of God, we’ll discover nuances that the early disciples didn’t even have, and nuances that others around us may not have.

I think it’s time we spend quality time with the Word of God who dwells among us.

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8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

What could be better than the salvation of our souls? Absolutely nothing this side of heaven. We don’t quite know what awaits us in eternity, though we get glimpses. We do know that Jesus will be there sitting at the right hand of the Father. Of course the Holy Spirit will be there though I’m not sure in what capacity.

So where is this life of faith leading us? To eternity to see the King of Kings. The atheists and secularist in the world mock at our ability to see and worship the unseen. But this world is all they have. We’re very happy that this life is not all there is, and look forward to something much much better. It’s what we’ve been waiting for.

We have faith that one day – we don’t know when or how exactly – we will see Him face to face. Then we will know that we “have arrived,” which is very different than the world’s view of having arrived.

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