April 22, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 1:13-25

Verse 13 is a powerful challenge and exhortation.  Here it is from the NASB:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.—I Peter 1:13

First, let’s determine what the “therefore” is there for.  In verses 10-12, Peter makes it clear that the readers have grasped an understanding of salvation.  Since they understand salvation and are in the midst of persecution, they should, “therefore,” do what the next few verses exhort them to do.  I want to comment on just a one of Peter’s exhortations.

In verse 13, Peter told the readers to prepare their minds for action.  Some other translations and paraphrases word this phrase like this:

 “Turn the robes of your mind into running shorts. Pull them up between your legs and tuck them into your belt” (Piper)

“So then, have your minds ready for action” (TEV)

“So brace up your minds” (Amp)

“Be serious and thoughtful rather than shallow and flippant in attitude” (Morris)

“Having tied up at the waist the clothes of your mind” (ALT)

As followers of Christ, we must prepare our minds for action.  Imagine a football team entering a game without any preparation, or a construction company building a house with no blueprints.  Imagine taking a test at school without studying, or going to battle in war without any kind of preparation.  Imagine a Christian trying to go through the day without first preparing their mind for action?  None of us would ever enter the day without preparing our minds for action…would we?  Actually, I’d say many of us enter some of our days without preparing our minds for action.

Christians, we have to get ready for what each day holds for us.  We prepare by seeking fellowship with Him in prayer and in the Word.  We prepare by surrendering our day to Him and committing to obedience.  We surrender by asking Him to take His place on the throne of our lives.  We prepare mentally by choosing to believe that each person I meet is a potential divine appointment to share the gospel.  We prepare by being trained and equipped to share the gospel and disciple other people.

Have you prepared your mind for action today?  What do you need to do to better prepare your mind for action?  What do you do to keep your mind ready for action?

Posted by: Rich Duffield

April 20, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 1:8-12

The Christian life is full of wondrous mysteries we may never fully understand or even know about. One such mystery we see in today’s reading: salvation.

Salvation is mysterious in that, at the same time you are saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved. We are saved immediately when we accept the free gift from Jesus and repent of our sins. We are being saved from our sinful nature through the process of sanctification and we will be saved when Christ returns and takes us home for eternity. Only God would work in such an amazing way. Peter tells us that these truths: that “you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls,” should move us to love, belief and inexpressible joy.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I allow life and busyness to crowd out this truth and I quickly forget it. If you are like me, make it a point each day and evening to start and end your day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the work that God is doing in you. You are saved, rejoice in that. You are being saved; allow God to continue sanctifying you to be like Jesus. And you will be saved, keep watch, the Lord will soon be here.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 19, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 1:3-7

It’s a choice to rejoice.  Even in the face of fierce persecution and various trials, I can choose to rejoice.

Peter agrees.  In verses 6-7, he said:

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (NASB)

Why can followers of Christ rejoice even in fierce persecution and trials?  Verses 3-5 gives the answer:

  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who,
  • according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again
  • to a living hope (through the resurrection of Christ)
  • to obtain an inheritance
  • which is imperishable and undefiled
  • and will not fade away,
  • reserved in heaven for you,
  • who are protected by the power of God through faith
  • for a salvation ready to be revealed.

Rejoicing is all a matter of perspective.  I believe joy could be described as resting in the peace of knowing that God is in control regardless of the circumstances and recognizing that the best is yet to come.  When I have that perspective during trials and persecution, and realize that I have the hope of heaven in the future, as well as the hope of my faith being strengthened in the here and now, I can rejoice.

When I lived in Raleigh, NC, I heard a pastor say, “Suffering is inevitable, but misery is a choice.”  Just the same as I can choose to rejoice, I can choose misery in the face of trials. The choice that you and I will make is rooted in our perspective of who is in control and whether or not we have the hope that the best is yet to come while on earth and in regards to our eternity.

What’s going on in your life today?  I have no doubt that someone reading this is hurting in a way that others cannot understand.  Maybe someone reading this feels like there is a black cloud hovering above them.  Maybe you are even experiencing persecution for your faith.  I know what those situations and feelings are like, but I’ve found that I can turn to Scripture and find hope in the truths such as what is spoken of here in 1 Peter 1:3-7.

It really is a choice to rejoice.  Let’s choose wisely today.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

April 18, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

This simple introduction by the apostle Peter gives great insight to what this letter holds:
1) It’s written to believers who have been exiled. They need to know solid truth about Jesus.
2) God has a bigger plan and He’s in control.
3) Peter has instructions for the basics of the Christian faith and for church life.
4) Being dispersed meant they probably needed the reminder of “grace and peace”.

Soak in the verses. Check out this intro material from the ESV Study Bible for a deeper understanding of the purpose of the letter (pay close attention to the suffering element — you’ll deal with that throughout the letter):

Peter encourages his readers to endure suffering and persecution (1:6–7; 2:18–20; 3:9, 13–17; 4:1–4, 12–19; 5:9) by giving themselves entirely to God (4:19). They are to remain faithful in times of distress, knowing that God will vindicate them and that they will certainly enjoy the salvation that the Lord has promised. The death and resurrection of Christ stand as the paradigm for the lives of believers. Just as Christ suffered and then entered into glory, so too his followers will suffer before being exalted.

The letter is addressed to Christians dispersed in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1), an area north of the Taurus Mountains in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey); see map. These provinces were ethnically (and at times linguistically) diverse, yet all these territories had been impacted by Greco-Roman culture and were firmly under Roman control from the mid-first century b.c. The order in which the areas are listed probably designates the order in which the courier (Silvanus, see 5:12) would carry the letter to its intended readership.

Most scholars are convinced that the recipients of 1 Peter were primarily Gentiles. The reference to their “former ignorance” (1:14) and “the futile ways inherited from your forefathers” (1:18) suggests a pagan past that would not fit with Jewish readers. Further, the former lifestyle of the readers (4:3–4) fits with Gentiles rather than Jews. But undoubtedly there were also some Jewish Christians in these churches, for Jewish residents of “Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia” were present at Pentecost and heard the gospel at that early date (Acts 2:9; see note on Acts 9:19b–20). Though the recipients may have been literally “exiles” (1 Pet. 1:1, 17; 2:11), it is more likely that Peter speaks figuratively here: they are spiritual exiles awaiting their heavenly inheritance.

In the past, many scholars detected an empire-wide persecution of Christians in 1 Peter, whether under Nero (a.d. 54–68), Domitian (81–96), or Trajan (98–117), and even used this argument to deny that Peter wrote the letter by specifically placing 1 Peter in the reign of either Domitian or Trajan. However, the evidence is lacking for an official government policy against Christians in the reign of all these emperors. Instead, there were spasmodic and general outbursts against Christians during the first century. Nero’s persecution of Christians after the great fire in Rome (a.d. 64) did not launch official empire-wide persecution of all Christians; nor does 1 Peter reflect an official policy against Christians. Also, an empire-wide decree against Christians is not necessitated by Peter’s writing about the need to respond when asked about one’s faith (3:15), the charges brought against Christians (4:14–16), or the reference to believers suffering worldwide (5:9). The questions and charges brought against Christians that Peter mentions in 3:15 and 4:14–16 were typical of the everyday questions believers would encounter because of their faith. In some instances, Roman authorities punished Christians, but even in these cases it was a local and restricted response. The reference to believers suffering throughout the world (5:9) does not signal that the Roman Empire had passed a decree against the Christian faith. This verse simply reveals that the Christian faith was under threat in the entire Greco-Roman world. Indeed, 1 Peter says nothing about Christians suffering physically for their faith. The focus is on the verbal abuse and discrimination they receive because of their Christian commitment (4:3–4). Of course, verbal abuse easily leads to physical mistreatment, and it is possible that some of the believers to whom Peter wrote were suffering physical abuse for their faith as well (cf. 2:18–20).

What’s ahead in this book? Here’s a snapshot of the themes you’ll see in 1 Peter.

1PeterThemes

Blessings on your day, CPC family!

Posted by: Todd Thomas