1 Peter 1:14-16
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
Have you ever played the game follow the leader? You walk around the room or outside in a single file line, whatever the leader does, you do. This means if they raise their right arm you raise yours, if they are marching in place you are too. This is a fun way to occupy and distract pre schoolers but it doesn’t work as well with middle and high school students. Why is that? Because at that point in our lives we are thinking we know what’s best for us, we start to know who we are, what we like and what we dislike. If we were to play this game today I’m sure some would start the game and others wouldn’t. Some would play until they got to something they didn’t want to do and would quit.
This is true for all of us. The older we get the less likely we are to blindly or foolishly follow the leader and there is nothing wrong with that. We make our own choices. The objective to following the leader is to be obedient to the leader. That’s really what we struggle with when we get older. We want to make our own choices and we don’t want to follow or obey anyone else. This is because we have chosen to follow the wrong person.
In today’s verses, Peter is calling for the followers of Jesus to follow Jesus as obedient children. They are to be holy because He is holy. The thing to see here is that it is their choice to make. They can choose to be conformed to their former ignorance or they can choose to follow Jesus and be holy. The choice is theirs to make.
In the same way, the choice is ours to make. We can choose to be holy because God is holy or we can choose to live in our former ignorance. But, what does it mean to be holy? Is it perfection or something else? To be holy means to be set apart or dedicated or consecrated to God. To be holy is the example of open hands and open hearts to God, asking Him to use us for His purpose, to be obedient to His will and not our own. To do this we need to recognize who Jesus is and that He has a great plan for us. We must know that his will and plan for us is far greater than anything we could ever come up with ourselves.
Today, think about the word surrender. Have you surrendered yourself to the will of God? That is what Peter wanted for his readers. To go back and live how you want is to choose to live in ignorance. Once you know Jesus as your savior you are no longer ignorant to the will of God. Let’s focus this week on living our lives in full surrender to Jesus and make sure we follow the only leader that is worthy to be followed.
1 Peter 1:24-25
“For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.”
The art of comparing and creating an example is one that allows us to see important and hard to see things in a simple and very visible way. This gives us the ability to comprehend some of the hard things in life. One thing that is hard to comprehend is the idea of health and even death. So many people we know seem perfectly healthy one minute and things can change the next. The human body is resilient and strong while also being fragile and fickle. We have seen in the history of man how our flesh can fail us. Even the strongest man or woman can fall to sickness.
This is what Peter is talking about here. When you look at this life there are times where we just need something strong to hold onto. Peter shows the example of the flower in the field. They are strong and beautiful during the spring and into the summer but eventually they whither and fall away. In the same way our flesh will one day whither and fall away. If we hold on to people they could eventually leave us alone because they are gone. Peter wants his reader to hold on to something that is strong, consistent and everlasting. That thing is the word of the Lord. It will always be true, available and worthy of our faith.
Because the word of God endures forever we can also trust that Jesus will as well. It is His word that we can trust and it is His word that leads us into our eternal salvation. How does this help your day to day? To know that God’s word is truth and will endure forever. There is no end to His promises. Are there people in your life that you put before the word of God? Maybe a pastor, a friend or a family member. We never want to lose them and we never want them to let us down, but the reality is that they will one day whither and fall just like the flower of the field. The one thing that is true and lasts forever is the word of God. Take some time today to think through the people and things you trust the most. Is Jesus on the top of that list? Is He the one you always follow and go to? If not, take the time to reorganize your life. Put Jesus at the top and let the rest fall in their rightful place.
1 Peter 2:6-8
“For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected — this One has become the cornerstone, and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.”
In construction it is very important to have a sturdy and strong foundation to start your project. In Jesus’ time, this was called the cornerstone but today we call it the footers. (I think cornerstone sounds better.) The cornerstone is important because it is what holds the building up where the two walls meet. This carries the majority of the weight for these walls and everything that the walls support, like a second or third story and the roof, depend on this cornerstone being firm, unmovable and strong. With a strong cornerstone or footer, the building can last for centuries. With a weak or damaged cornerstone the building will fall and crumble to the ground.
Today, Peter wants to make sure that his readers understand the importance of the foundation they have in their life. He wants to make sure they are building their life on the firm, unmovable and strong foundation of Jesus Christ. He points to how scripture prophesied that God would send His cornerstone, The Messiah Jesus Christ, into the world and that He would build off of this cornerstone. This cornerstone is a firm foundation for all those who believe in Jesus Christ but it is a stumbling block for those who don’t believe. That is an interesting concept to think through. I think of it this way. If Jesus is the cornerstone and He is firm, unmovable and strong, our foundation can never be shaken. So, even if the world comes after the church and destroys our traditions, buildings, and basic principles there will always be the immovable cornerstone of Jesus Christ. This then trips them up because they can’t do anything about it.
Isn’t this what we see in church history? Many people have failed as church leaders and the world takes them down and the Church suffers for it but it withstands the test of time because no matter what, Jesus will remain. Those who believe have a strong foundation to build on. We just need to make sure we are building properly. Those who don’t believe will always trip up when it comes to Jesus. He can’t be denied.
Think about this foundation today. The book of first Peter is trying to make sure that we understand who we are in Christ and what that means for us. Today we need to think about how Jesus is our foundation. Are we building on that foundation through God’s plans or are we making it up as we go? Check your foundation today. If it’s cracked or crumbling, it’s not Jesus that you are built on. Take it all down and start building on the firm, unmovable and strong cornerstone of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:21-23
“For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.”
Earlier this week we talked about following the leader and Jesus being that leader. Today think about the idea of that leader, Jesus, setting the example. Have you ever had someone try to teach you something that they can’t do themselves. This may sound funny but it happens all the time. There are many teachers and coaches who teach something that they themselves cannot do at the level of those they are teaching. But, there is an art to that. The people I’m talking about are the ones who are trying to teach you something and they say stuff like, “you just go like this and this (doing silly hand and body motions) and then just do it!” Those are the people you just look at and say, why don’t you just lead by example. Show me what you want me to do.
This is what Peter is talking about today. I know Jesus is an amazing teacher but He didn’t just teach us how to live, He showed us. Peter says, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps.” You don’t know what to do or how to handle a situation? Look to Jesus and His examples written in scripture. He tells us what to do and shows us. He lived a sinless life, this shows us that we don’t have to sin, we can put it away. He was hated by many but didn’t hate in return. This shows us that we can love our enemy because Jesus did. His faith was tested by going to the cross yet He did it for us. This shows us that when our faith is tested, we too can make it through even the hardest situation.
Jesus was and is our ultimate example. No matter what you are going through in this life you can trust that Jesus went through it as well. You can then go to chapter and verse and see how He responded. I can give you a quick hint on how He always responded, it was always through prayer and the word of God. When you study the Word of God it is like ammunition for anything that you will face in this world. You still have to choose correctly to listen to it, but knowing it is half the battle. If you don’t know what to do or how to handle a situation go to God in prayer. It may take time and maybe even fasting to get understanding and wisdom to find the answer you need but God will give it to you. It is promised in scripture. Take a look at Philippians 4:6-7 to see that promise.
Take some time today to think through the example that Jesus left for us. We can learn from His example but we have to remember that we will still need to choose to follow that example. Put the work in to learn and understand, through prayer and scripture, and you will be ready when it comes time to make that choice.
1 Peter 3:15-16
“but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.”
This is a verse that I have pounded into my head over the past twenty years. I grew up having the Bible beat into my head and I was constantly reminded, by my church, that I was not good enough and I have come up short. Now, don’t get me wrong with this. I am not good enough and I have definitely come up short. That defines us all. We just need to remember the “But God” in our lives. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:8 then goes on to say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God,” We are made righteous through the grace and mercy of God. So we have to make sure that we are delivering this important message correctly.
When Peter was writing this section of chapter three, I have a feeling he had seen or heard the wonderful message of God’s grace delivered in a harsh way. He tells his readers to first, always be ready to give an answer or a defense for the hope is in you. In others words, know what you believe and why you believe it. When people see your hope, be ready to tell them about where you get that hope. He then goes on to say, “However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” He is telling them that their delivery of truth matters. When you deliver the truth of God in gentleness and respect, even when people attack you for your beliefs, they will be put to shame by their attack because of how people view you. They will see that your message matches your actions and your delivery.
Think of it this way, it’s the difference of looking at your mom in the eyes and saying, “I love you” in a gentle and soft tone versus walking away screaming at the top of your lungs, “I love you” in an angry and rigid tone. Which one do you think is believable. Which one do you think others listening in will make them say, “Wow, they really do love their mom.” That’s how it is when we witness to others. When we give a defense with gentleness and respect, those listening in will say, “Wow, they really do believe in this Jesus guy.” Our knowledge is very important but our delivery is just as important.
How are you witnessing today? Are you arguing your beliefs with others? Are you trying to win the battle or be right? If that’s you, rethink your delivery. Listen well to the things others say, respond with God’s word, His truth, and make sure to do it with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 4:16
“But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.”
We hear it all the time in the church world and even outside of the church. The word Christian is used to describe someone who follows Christ. It is used to describe a genre of music. It’s used to describe schools, standards of living, and even countries. It is a term that is used often to describe things yet those things don’t always match. That brings us to a problem that needs an answer. What does it mean to be a Christian or to be called Christian. A Christian is someone whose behavior and heart reflect Jesus Christ. This means that the person is walking around acting and speaking as Christ would. This is where the differences come through. None of us is perfect, so sometimes we don’t reflect the behavior and heart of Jesus. The thing we have to remember is that when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we became a follower of Jesus. This means we are learning and training to be more like Him and sometimes may not be the best example of a Christian. There will be ups and downs when it comes to following Jesus.
It is because of this and today’s verses, that I believe we misuse the term, Christian. This is a name that was given to the followers of Jesus by those who were around them. It was not a term used in love but in mocking and hatred. They were calling those who followed the belief that Jesus was the Savior of the world “little Christs” as a way of making fun of them. This led to some not liking the name and being ashamed of being called a Christian. Peter says, "But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.” He wants them to be proud of that name. He knows they are being mistreated, mocked, and made fun of but he believes it is a name that is honoring of God and therefore we glorify God by being given that name.
The thing I want us to see today is not that we shouldn’t call ourselves Christians but we should notice that it was a name given to them by those who didn’t follow Jesus. We put the name Christian on so many things so people will know what we stand for but how different would it be if the name was given to us because people saw what we stood for and named us “Christian" or “Little Christ” because we were acting just like Jesus? I believe people would believe what we say more, people would believe in who Jesus is more, and people would understand the name, Christian.
Take some time today to think about whether or not you have earned the title of Christian. Look back at the definition, would someone give you this name if you didn’t tell them it was your “title” or “belief”? What do you think needs to change in your life for you to be given this title? We need more people in this world whose behaviors and hearts reflect Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:8-11
“Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.”
One of my favorite things to do is watch nature shows either on YouTube, Discovery, or National Geographic. I love watching the ones on the African Safari. You have the different perspectives of the zebras, antelopes, and even the different insects walking around. They show you their day-to-day lives, how they eat in the field and drink water at the small water source that is always dwindling away. Sometimes they even give them names and show you their family and how they interact with one another. It’s all fun and games until they get to the feeding time for the lions. It always changes the tone of the whole show. They show the family of antelopes going together in the cool of the evening to go get water, the music changes and the voice-over says something like, “but wait, little Johnny doesn’t see the danger that awaits him by the watering hole. Nala (a hungry lion) is waiting to strike.” In some of the shows, little Johnny gets away and in others, he becomes a meal for the lions.
This is what I want you to think about with today’s verses. Even though we understand in nature that lions need to eat and feed their young, just like every other animal, Peter uses the way the lion prowls around and devours its prey to describe Satan coming for us as believers in Jesus Christ. He says, “Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” That is who Satan is. He is looking to destroy and devour anything he can. Peter tells his readers this so that we can be serious and alert. He then goes into things we can do to combat the Devil. He says, “Resist him and be firm in the faith,” and that God will be there for you. He wants us to know that we need to know the devil is real, he is after us and we have the power to resist and win over him but only through the power of God.
Think about this today with your day-to-day walk. How is your faith? Have you studied God’s Word, prayed, and sharpened your mind and faith with other believers? These are all things we can use to resist the Devil and his advances to destroy us. When most people fail it is because we are like the young antelope that leaves the family to go get water by himself. He thinks it’s safe, what could go wrong, it’s just water right? He goes by himself and doesn’t see the danger that is waiting for him just on the other side of that bush. That’s how it is with us. When we don’t study God’s word we have no ammunition against the Devil. When we don’t pray we don’t have a mind of peace and wisdom when we face the Devil. When we are off by ourselves or neglecting our Christian friends, we don’t have the backup we need to face the devil. This is why we fall. Peter says to be serious and to be alert. Take this seriously and then be alert for when Satan is coming for you. Today, take some time to think through the way you prepare for your day. Ask yourself these questions: Am I ready to face the devil today? Who is my backup? Am I depending on Jesus today?