Living in Faith

Living in Faith

Living in Faith 

1 Peter 4:12-19

All believers will endure suffering. The type of suffering Peter is describing in 1 Peter 4:12-19 is suffering for the cause of Christ. He helps the reader understand how to respond to suffering that comes into a believers life because they belong to Jesus.

Peter instructs the reader to expect painful trials and understand that trials are a part of the Christian’s life. When we can anticipate something, we can be ready when it comes and not be surprised. Our culture is turning more and more hostile towards Christians. As we see this developing in our society we can take measures to confront this hostility and ready ourselves for what is coming.

As these trials come, Peter tells us to rejoice. This seems counter intuitive on the surface. How can we rejoice when we experience trials for the sake of Christ. Peter mentions 4 reasons:

  1. We identify with the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 4:12)
  2. We will be rewarded when He returns. (1 Peter 4:13)
  3. The Spirit of Glory and of God rests on us. (1 Peter 4:14)
  4. These trials give us an opportunity to place our faith in God and commit ourselves to our Faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)

In this passage Peter also encourages us to identify the cause of the trial we are under. He writes, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” 1 Peter 4:15) These sufferings give you the opportunity to examine your life:

  • Why am I suffering? (1 Peter 4:15) Ask yourself if you are the cause of the trial.
  • Am I ashamed of Christ or do I look for opportunities to praise Him? (1 Peter 4:16)
  • Do I look for opportunities to introduce people to Jesus? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

How strong is someone’s faith if it is never tested? God will use the trials of this life to strengthen us for His glory and our good.

Living Under Stress

Living Under Stress

1 Peter 2:18-25

Are you stressed? Do you feel pressure? Everyone feels the pressures of life that causes stress. What we do with these pressures determines our health and the extent that we honor Christ with our lives. There are both good and bad stresses.

Good stress occurs when we exercise or challenge ourselves mentally or emotionally. Rising to the occasion to make a difference in someone else’s life brings stress. Take for instance the paramedic who arrives on the scene of an accident to administer CPR just in time to save a life, the soldier who puts himself in harm’s way to protect the freedom we enjoy, or the counselor who says just the right thing, at just the right time, that helps someone deal with life’s pressure. I am thankful for those who intentionally put themselves under pressure for others. This is the good side of stress. What are other examples of good stress?

Most of the time when we mention stress we are describing negative stress and its effects. Bad stress occurs when the pressures of this life lead to a helplessness and depression. Job related pressure, financial stress, and relational stress are all examples of negative stress we all experience. Since we all deal with the stresses of this life, good stress or bad stress, we must develop strategies to cope with stress that both honor Christ and lead to a healthy life. Every stressful situation we encounter is an opportunity to place our faith in God.

In 1 Peter 2: 18-20, Peter describes two situations a believer can get into that cause pressure: Stress in the workplace and stress in walking in the steps of Christ. This passage occurs as Peter is writing about the need for submission in the believer’s life.

Stress in the Workplace 1 Peter 2:18-20

Peter is writing in a day where slavery was common. His instruction is focused on slaves responding to their masters. Since we live in a society where slavery is illegal, we can apply the principles found in this passage to employees responding to their bosses. Peter instructs the reader to “Submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The principle of submission, although not popular, is the key ingredient to the employee / employer relationship. This submission is to take place with employers who are good and those who are difficult. It is easy to submit to an employer when we agree with them. Submission is tested when we don’t agree with the boss or feel their course of action is unfair. In this passage, Peter calls the believers in Christ to submit to and honor their employer.

In our working situations and in life, living a life that honors God and doing good will cause stress and suffering. When you think about it, if we are living as aliens and strangers in this world as 1 Peter 2:11 describes, it makes sense that there will be stress because of the uniqueness of our lives. The second stressor that Peter mentions in this passage is the stress that we encounter when we walk as Jesus walked.

1 Peter 2:21-25 shows that Jesus is our Example and that we must follow in His Steps. Peter paints three pictures of Jesus Christ that will help us understand how we should respond to stress and suffering.

He is our Example  1 Peter 2:21-23

Jesus suffered for us when He died on the cross for our sins. How he handled the lies, false accusations and shame of the cross set us a supreme example of how we should endure the suffering of this life. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” This is the key! When stress and suffering comes, we have an opportunity to trust God with the circumstances. We will find that He is faithful. It is during these times that our faith will grow beyond the place it can during peaceful times. Jesus endured the cross because it was the will of God and because of His great love for us. God’s will and our love for Him will motivate us too.

He is our Substitute  1 Peter 2:24

Jesus’ death on the cross provided a way that we can be saved. We can die to the old way of life and live lives of righteousness. His wounds healed us! If you have a relationship with God, never forget that Jesus has the power to heal our wounds.

He is our Shepherd and Overseer of our soul  1 Peter 2:25

Peter concludes this passage by comparing us to sheep. Sheep are defenseless, hopeless, and completely dependent on the shepherd for their well being. John 10:1-14 and Psalm 23 are great examples of our need for a Shepherd. He is the Shepherd of our souls who will never fail.

What stress or struggle in your life do you need to give to Jesus?

Remember our Savior, who is our ultimate Example.

Living as Strangers

Living as Strangers

I Peter 2:11-12

A person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior becomes a resident of Heaven and becomes an alien of this world. As aliens, there are challenges that come with living “in” this world and aligning our action as someone not “of” this world. In 1 Peter 2 through the end of the letter, Peter describes how we can thrive in this world as we look forward to our place in Heaven.

In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter strongly encourages the reader, who is an alien in this world, to abstain from “sinful desires that war against your souls.” There is an active battle raging for the minds and souls of men. Peter has already shown the security of the believer in 1 Peter 1:5. Even in the life of a believer, there is a battle between the way we should live and the sinful desires within us. As we abstain from these sinful desires, we will have a powerful witness with those we come into contact with.

Our lives, when lived for God, become a witness and an opportunity to glorify God. Peter writes, “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.” 1 Peter 1:12 Wow! The way we live our life matters. Peter is writing about a life that is above reproach, meaning that if someone tried to find something to accuse you of, they would be unable to find anything. This type of clean living has a direct effect on our witness. We validate or invalidate our witness with the actions of our lives. The good deeds of our lives become evident to those around us that lead to praise and glory for God. This is a demonstration of who we are in Christ, a new creation with new desires.

People are watching you. They want to know if your lifestyle matches what you say you believe. They want proof that there is a difference in the life of a believer when compared to the life of a “pagan.” Could it be that we are reluctant to speak for Christ because our lives contradict what we know to be true?

Clear Application for Today

  1. Realize that there will be a struggle as you live as an alien in a hostile world.
  2. Declare war on the sinful desires that rage in your life. 2 Corinthians 10:5
  3. Confess sin, receive God’s forgiveness, and pray for God’s strength to live the “good life” Peter is writing about.
  4. Look for opportunities to share the good news about Jesus with those whom you come in contact with.
Family Matters

Family Matters

Family Matters

I Peter 2:1-10

1 Peter 1: 3 says, “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,”. In the first part of Chapter Two, Peter continues to give the reader reasons we have for hope.

Peter starts by instructing the reader to rid themselves from malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. These vices keep the child of God from living a hope-filled life that honors God. He then goes on to encourage them to “crave pure spiritual milk”. (1 Peter 2:1-3) God’s Word is the source of spiritual nourishment that the believer needs to experience new, hope-filled life. If a child of God stops feeding on the Word, he becomes unhealthy and stops growing. This keeps him from enjoying the grace and peace of God working in his lives. The child of God who feasts on the Word gets the spiritual nourishment needed to live as a stranger in this world and live in the hope that new life in Christ brings.

The next reason that Peter gives for hope is that we can take our place in the building God is constructing – the Church. (1Peter 2:4-8) Jesus is described as the living stone because He was raised from the dead on the third day. He is now the foundation for the church. (Matthew 16:17-19) We take our place in the church as we act as priests and offer God spiritual acts of worship. (Romans 12:1-2) For those who do not believe and are unwilling to worship Him, Jesus becomes a stumbling block.

Finally, Peter describes our place as God’s children in the People of God. Peter is very careful with His description of God’s people. 1 Peter 2:9 describes the child of God as a “chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in His wonderful light.” When we understand who we are in Christ and the place we have in the “people of God”, we will gain strength for our journey and find hope for hard times.

Clear Application Questions for Today

  1. Do you hunger for the “pure spiritual milk” of the Word of God? What adjustments do you need to make in your life to make more time to get into God’s Word?
  2. Do you actively serve God and offer him the worship He deserves? What evidence is there in your life that you belong to the “People of God”?

Do you understand your place in the “people of God.” Read 1 Peter 2:10 to be reminded on the change that has happened in your life.

A Letter of Hope

1 Peter- A Letter of Hope

This week we begin a new study through the book of 1 Peter. The apostle Peter wrote this book to encourage the Christians of his day who were experiencing persecution because of their faith. Although we are not yet persecuted for your faith in our context, 1 Peter has words of encouragement for us in our time and our culture.

The epistle starts off by identifying Peter as the author and believers who find themselves as aliens in a world hostile to Christianity as the recipients. Throughout the book, Peter exhorts believers to remain faithful and trust God no matter their circumstances.

In 1 Peter 1: 3-9, Peter writes about the reasons we have to praise God:

1. We should praise Him because His mercy has provided a way of salvation and new birth by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

2. We should praise Him because of the promise of an eternal inheritance that is “imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading.” 1 Peter 1:4

3. We should praise Him because there is a place in Heaven for all who will believe. 1 Peter 1:4

4. We should praise Him because we can be eternally secure. 1 Peter 1:5

5. We should praise Him because He brings purpose to the trials that we face on this earth. We praise God by how we handle the hard times of our life. When trials come, they are opportunities for us to place our faith in God and glorify him in our time of need. 1 Peter 1:6-7

6. We should praise Him because following and loving Christ leads to joy that is unexplainable. 1 Peter 1:8

7. We should praise Him because the outcome of our faith will be the salvation of our souls. 1 Peter 1:9

He deserves our praise!