I signed off ZOOM again with a huge smile of gratefulness. I thanked the LORD for another wonderful discussion with summer Bible study friends who share the hunger to know GOD’s heart through His Word! We are just getting started with the first chapter of 1 Peter and our hearts are swelling to imagine the perspective his letters will give us!
It is an honor to share some reflections from this week’s discussion of 1 Peter 1:1-12 . . .
We started our conversation with first impressions of Peter, his mission, and his message. It was so interesting to notice changes in him over the 30 years since JESUS’ ascension – undeniable evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life. The list we brainstormed last week painted a picture of a hasty, over-confident, head-strong, impulsive individual. Even from these first few verses, we now imagine a wise, humble, gracious man who sees himself as equal to his fellow travelers toward a heavenly Home, despite his clear position as long-standing leader in the church. One character trait has not left him – his passion! He still speaks clearly and boldly about the simple truth of the gospel and we are inspired by his all-in commitment to share that Good News with anyone and everyone who will listen!
We took a bit of time to delve into that Good News – the gifts we ought to truly treasure, freely extended to us through GOD’s eternal plan of redemption. Freedom from the guilt of sin, its penalty, and the ramifications of the prior covenant between GOD and His people – endless, powerless efforts on man’s part to atone for sin. Holy GOD required perfect, spotless blood shed to redeem us (Hebrews 9:22). His Son JESUS endured so much to offer His own blood to settle that account once and for all, to allow us to stand purified and welcomed into the presence of GOD! Ancient prophets foretold these details, with stubborn hope in what they could not understand, so we could watch with expectant eyes to see GOD’s plans fulfilled. Angels even look on in wonder!
And yet there is more. We are not just redeemed, forgiven, made holy (as incredible and mind-blowing as those truths are), we are also adopted as children of GOD. He has prepared an inheritance for us – a living hope in the power of Christ’s endless life, protected and secure in heaven, beyond any threat of loss, not in the least bit of jeopardy from the actions of others or even ourselves!
These were truly words of comfort and reassurance to new believers who had been sent far and wide from their original homes because of their allegiance to Christ. Some had lost everything. Many lived in fear as persecutors hunted them down to brutally abuse them for their budding faith in the true Messiah. These believers were literal foreigners in strange lands. But as citizens of a heavenly city, we are all pilgrims just traveling through an earthly scene. Even if we do not experience grueling persecution as they did, we all face trials as we live and grow, wrestle GOD’s purposes as He asks us to do hard things, as we falter and find restoration in Him. The eternally unchanging truth and hope we hold in Christ steadies us! The knowledge that our Father has chosen us and claimed us as His own gives us a place to belong – a forever Home! How extravagant are His boundless gifts to us. What JOY fills our hearts as we linger over such thoughts!
So, why do we struggle to live in the JOY of that reality?
Sadly, we can be so easily distracted by day-to-day demands, anxious thoughts, fears, doubts, selfish pursuits, or the ever-present temptation to seek joy in our own accomplishments. We can come to expect GOD’s gracious gifts, to take them for granted, rather than delighting in them, or more importantly, in the Giver of those gifts.
How can we find our way back to a path of joy and delight rather than defeat and weariness?
We can tap into the additional gift of His Spirit within us! It is GOD’s own Spirit who comforts us, educates us, and nudges us to notice. We may not see Him physically with our eyes, but He heightens our awareness to recognize the reality of His hand moving and working in us and around us every day. He knows exactly how to get our attention. In big and small ways, He sends us “love letters” to remind us that He loves us, that our salvation stands secure, that He will never leave us.
Friends, let’s encourage each other to be watching. May we sink into His embrace and ask for His wisdom. May we pause to offer praise and thanksgiving for the many ways He touches our hearts and our lives moment by moment. And may our voices not be silent… let’s bear witness of His majesty and share His Good News with any who will listen. We don’t want them to miss the glorious salvation He offers!
All honor to the GOD and Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, for it is by His boundless mercy that GOD has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation, a living hope, because JESUS CHRIST rose from the dead. I Peter 1:3
#summerBiblestudy #learningtogether #1and2Peter #justgettingstarted #growth #transformation #wisdomofyears #passionforthegospel #wonderfulexpectation #livinghope #prophesyfulfilled #whileangelswatch #pricelessinheritance #unseenweloveHim #wechooseJOY #offerpraisetoGOD #CommunityBibleStudy #EngagingGODsWord