Vs. 14, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” A wonderful exhortation and reminder on Christmas Day! In the midst of living in a dark world, we must not lose hope! Peter exhorts those who are older to not live and lead like the world would have them do (vs. 1-4). There is a often a danger in allowing pride to puff up our minds. But, we must remember that pride is in direct opposition to God (vs. 5-7). And speaking of opposition, we must take a stand against the devil who wants to devour (vs. 8-11).
Regarding application…Don’t Be Anxious. Vs. 7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” There was much to be anxious for the original audience of Peter’s epistle. And in many ways, there are always things we can point to in our life to make us anxious. The Christmas season is probably one of the more stressful times in our lives with traveling, visiting family, and the extra-added events that we pile on. Question: Is there anything in your life that is causing you to be anxious? Let’s take the time to rejoice for a Savior has come ready!
Vs. 12, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Peter reminds us it’s all about having the right perspective on suffering. In some ways, this is a very applicable text for us as we near Christmas. Jesus came to us in a time when people in the world were suffering greatly. Godly people were losing hope. We are reminded that Jesus is Immanuel (God with us). The world is surprised to see Christians live contrary to the flesh (vs. 1-6). Because the end is near, we should make sure we are living as if Jesus could come again anytime (vs. 7-11). Let us keep fighting the good fight and enduring for glory of the Lord is coming soon (vs. 12-19).
Regarding application…Love Covers Sins. Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Question: How are we to love? We are to love each other deeply. This is hands down one of my most treasured verses in the Word. Peter recalls a passage from the OT (Proverbs 10:12). It is this deep love that came down to us from Heaven in the form of a baby. Jesus’ love covered over our sins. This Christmas, you will have the opportunity to love your family, church and friends with deep love. Question: How can you show the love of Christ this Christmas Eve?
Vs. 18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” Jesus set the example for us in suffering and humbling himself. Yesterday, Peter admonished us as citizens to submit to authority. Now he takes the first portion of our chapter today to remind us to submit and be mindful of our relationship in marriage (Vs. 1-7). Question: Why the emphasis on women? Because, like today, when couples are married without knowing Christ it is often the woman who becomes a Christian first. There were women in the new church that did not know how they should now respond to their unbelieving husband. Likewise, men too have a great responsibility to love and be considerate to their wives (vs. 7). In the latter half of our chapter, Peter goes on to give more practical ways we can live in a world where many will persecute and hate Christians (vs. 8-22). No matter how others respond to us, we are to go out of our way to be good. I found much comfort in Peter reminding us not to be afraid (vs. 14). This comes from a man who had learned how to deal with his fear and now is stronger because of it.
Regarding application…Be Prepared. Vs. 15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Since we are not to fear the retribution of others, we should always be ready to have an answer for our faith. Remember, the recipients of Peter’s letter were living in fear of persecution from Nero. While we here in the States do not live under Christian persecution, we do have the same call to be prepared. In other words, we are to speak up when asked why we live and do the things we do. When people see Christians choose not to party and get drunk, when Christians choose to not curse, when Christians choose to give their tithe and time to church, When Christians love their community….People are going to wonder why? That is why we must know His word and be able to articulate our own testimony to others. Let’s be ready to answer why we celebrate Christmas to our family and friends!
Vs. 5, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Peter shares a wealth of encouragement to us in this chapter. The more we know ourselves and our identity, the more we will be able to live holy lives acceptable by God. At the beginning of our chapter, Peter admonishes us to crave His word (vs. 1-3). As we crave God’s influence (word, church, prayer, fellowship) in our lives we are building our church on the Chief Cornerstone which is Christ (vs. 4-10). Notice that the church as it grows, we are to be a active voice of God’s goodness to a dark world (vs. 9). What a timely reminder as Christmas is right around the corner! Peter expounds upon how we are to live Godly lives (vs. 11-18). And in the last section of our chapter, Peter exhorts the persecuted believers to submit to those who are above.
Regarding application…Our Example. Vs. 21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery. There are many people we try to emulate. Those who are successful, we often pattern our lives to them. Jesus set the example in how we are to live. Jesus set the example in how we are to submit to authority. In the face of persecution, how we respond can affect our testimony. The world is watching us. We are on display. May our heavenly Father be proud!
Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The Lord Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21), and so this is exactly what Peter was doing. The hope of a new birth was found in our Savior and this important reminder should never be forgotten. Each believer who received this message was to remember that they were God’s chosen (vs. 1-2). With these truths in mind, Peter goes on to exhort the worried Christians how to respond in light of the persecutions of the church (vs. 6-9). I appreciate how Peter acknowledges that there is trials and grief going on. Some leaders may try to minimize such things. Peter gives us insight that such trials reveal the genuineness of our faith (vs. 7). Certainly, the end goal in all of this is the salvation that is offered to those who believe (vs. 10-12). Question: With salvation now given, what then is our end goal? We are to live holy lives (vs. 13-25).
Regarding application…Be Holy. Vs. 15, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” For many Christians, the understanding of what is means to be holy has been a bit skewed. There seems to be a tendency of guilt surrounded around this idea of holiness. In our weekly Bible study this past Wednesday, we discussed Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To live holy lives we must ensure our minds are being filled with Godly things. “Garbage in, garbage out.” Certainly what we put into our minds can corrupt our very life. May our hearts respond with resounding joy in the midst of our trials! Let the joy of Christmas shine in our faces!
Vs. 8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” As Peter closes this letter, we see that he wants us all to remember our battle is not against flesh & blood. No matter what transpires or what suffering we may have, we are called to remain faithful to the work God has given us (Vs. 1-5). We are also reminded to be humble and think of others as better than ourselves (Vs. 5-7). And lastly, we need to be ever watchful of the enemy and be alert like a shepherd in the night with his sheep (Vs. 8-11). And the culminating factor will be that as we endure to do these exhortations, one day we will eternally be with our Lord & Savior!
Regarding application…Legalism Vs. Willing Heart. Vs. 2, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be...” While Peter is addressing the official leaders in the church, I absolutely believe this admonishment applies to us all! God doesn’t call us to serve the church and then see our heartless attitude. What if you asked a favor from a friend and were really hoping they could help you…and their response is, “Okay, I guess…” and their shoulders sulk and their attitude of their face & actions show they really would rather do something else. Question: How would you feel? First off, not much of a friend…you would probably feel bad for asking them to do that favor…and maybe remember not to ask them again in the future. We should never do things simply because God has commanded it….we should do it because of a willing heart. When we begin to complain or have that bad attitude…simply look to the cross and remember the blood that was shed for you. If that isn’t inspiration enough…than nothing in this life will ever be.
Vs. 1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” Peter has already addressed everyday suffering, but now he tells of specific persecution & suffering to come. We are reminded that when we suffer it really is a road to purification (Vs. 1-6) But another real plus to suffering that it most definitely will unite a church who seeks to do His will (Vs. 7-11). But the greatest factor of suffering is the fact that when we suffer, Christ is glorified. Christ is Glorified = We suffer. We suffer = Christ is glorified. This should be a stark lesson on why we should never complain when we suffer.
Regarding application…Loving Covers Sins. Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” What a wonderful verse! This is one of my favorite reminders about love in the Bible! Fact #1 – No one is righteous…in other words…no one is ever going to be perfect. Everyone is going to hurt you at some point in your life. Fact #2 – We are to love with the love of Christ. Not our own ability to love, but to love through the eyes & heart of Christ. Love still loves no matter what. If this were truly practiced…there should never ever be a divorce between believers. If this were to happen…people would stop holding grudges and sins against each other. Upon completeing our “Dealing with Conflict” series recently, this is a great reminder to apply it now to our lives!
Vs. 15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” AMEN! This is one of the many reasons why we read His Word…so that we always have a response to give with love & gentleness. Christian women should remember that beauty comes from the inside, not the exterior (Vs. 2-4). Christian men should treat their wives with gentle love and honor (Vs. 7). We also are reminded of the word we don’t like to hear, but it is one all Christians must come to grip with…”suffering.” Anybody can suffer for doing wrong, but Christians must learn to suffer for doing what is right. Of course, Jesus is the example for us to follow.
Regarding application…Responding To Insults. Vs. 9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Peter encourages Christians to act and respond like Jesus. He endured suffering and ridicule without a vindicative response. There is a contrast between our natural tendency as human beings, to get even when we are offended versus with the way we should act as believers. Now…for a little “context” lesson…who are those whom Peter is admonishing us not to repay evil with evil? Look no further than Vs. 8…Peter was not addressing some evil Roman pagan empire or the false prophets and teachers…Peter was addressing those who belonged to the family of God. Christians were paying evil for evil towards each other…the ramifications are obvious. If the outside world saw Christians treating each other like this…than what would be the point of church if they act just like the rest of the world? Unfortunately, this same exhortation exists for us today. Most of us have probably been a part of a church split or seeing congregations get rid of Pastors etc… It’s moments like these that we see the church not practicing true love from Christ. Let us throw off that attitude like we deserve something and remember that if Jesus the very Son of God could humble himself before His own creation…than we could surely humble ourselves with each other.
Vs. 24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Suffering. Not a very pleasant word to think about, huh? Yet, Peter would address this topic and show us that we are not the only ones who would suffer…Jesus set the example for us. We must desire to grow and the only way to do that is taking the spiritual food so that we can endure the sufferings in this world (Vs. 2-3). We are also reminded as Peter quotes both Isaiah & Pslams how Jesus is our conerstone (Vs. 4-8). As Christians, we may think that the only one we need to obey is God, but Peter reminds us as people who bear Jesus’ name, it our duty to respect and obey the law of the land that we live in. If we don’t we could lose our testimony…so long as it does not go directly against the Bible (example: Sharing Christ).
Regarding application…Declaring God. Vs. 9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you maydeclare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Question: How do we delcare the praises of Him? By being a living “testimony” of how God worked and works and will work in your life! When we obey & show our testimony of living for Jesus, we can teach someone by how we live in a very effective & perhaps even faster way if they simply just learned about God on their own. The power of declaring God and what He has done for us can change peoples lives! You are all teachers for God simply by the way you live for Him!
Peter the apostle wrote this letter and it was intended to encourage the Roman Christians who were dealing with terrible persecution from Nero. Paul was believed to be in Spain at the time, so Peter took it upon himself to care for the suffering Christians. Also, remember…Peter was fulfilling Jesus’ command to continue to “feed my sheep” (John 21). Though the Christians in Rome had endured much, Peter was writing them to warn them of impending future persecutions to come. And it may suprise us to see the theme of I Peter focuses on the grace of God…even through trials.