May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”
2 Peter 1:2 NLT
Peter speaks a blessing of grace and peace to the fellow believers as they grow in their understanding of the Lord. Are you growing in your understanding of God? Do you really know who Jesus is? The greater you understand Him, the better you understand God. God's grace is poured out upon us in the person of Jesus Christ. The more we learn about our matchless Lord, the more we understand life and how it is to be lived. It is through God's grace that we even get to know Him. It is His grace that refused to leave us in our sin sick condition and foreordained a plan of salvation even before the world began (see I Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8). God is truly amazing! No wonder John Newton was inspired to write the classic Christian song "Amazing Grace". John was a wicked, vile, filthy mouth slave runner until he met Jesus. His life was radically changed by the power of God's grace in Christ. He later became a pastor and had influence upon a man named William Wilberforce (this is depicted in the 2006 movie "Amazing Grace" - a must watch). William Wilberforce became an Evangelical Christian in 1785 and used his political position in the British Parliament to reform his world for the cause of Christ. He helped bring about the end of the slave trade. Wow! What the power of Jesus can do!!! O how I pray that every politician and constituent in America, and every human on earth, would come to know the God of grace through Jesus Christ. Truly knowing Christ helps us see life clearly and fully. His grace continues to grow in our hearts. Grace has brought us safe thus far. Grace will lead us home. It behoves us to get to know Him more and more by grace. We are so much more than pew sitters and religious affiliates. We are the children of the Most High. Lets act like it!! Peter finishes 2 Peter with this statement “Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.”
2 Peter 3:18 NLT
A Precious Faith
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Jesus Christ, To those who have received and possess [by God’s will] a precious faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” 2 PETER 1:1 AMP
Peter makes his greeting to the suffering saints by reminding the believers that their faith in Jesus is precious. Jesus has graciously redeemed them and they are part of the special family of God.
We, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, are part of that special family. Let that settle your heart today. Rest in that fact. Revel in that reality. Stand strong in that statement of faith. Relax in the arms of grace. Be encouraged in that truth.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
“Greet each other with a kiss of love. Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.”
1 Peter 5:14 NLT
A kiss of love was a common greeting showing affection to a friend. This wasn't a romantic kiss like a man and woman would share. Men would greet men and women would greet women. This kept the kiss appropriate. This was not an acceptation of any form of same sex affection and was possibly a peck on each cheek. This was brotherly affection. Brothers and sisters in Christ were encouraged by Peter to affirm their love for one another. Jesus is the love of God manifest. Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples if we love one another (see John 13:34-35). In I John 4:7-8 we read “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” NLT Although we do not give "holy kisses" in our culture, we are, most certainly commanded to love each other and to demonstrate that love in our appropriate display of affection (words of brotherly affection or acts of kindness). We cannot truly call ourselves followers of Christ and hate our brothers and sisters. “If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:14-18 NLT Actions speak louder than words!!
By God's Grace We Stand
“I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.” 1 Peter 5:12 NLT
Silas (Silvanus - greek name -KJV) was a faithful brother in Christ that we read about in the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul (see Acts 15 verses 22, 40 -18:5; see also 2 Corinthians 1:19; I Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). It is good to have faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in the church. We depend upon each other to accomplish the purpose of the church. We are the body of Christ and each of us play a role in its health and success. God saves us through Christ. We are born again by our faith in Jesus and He places us within the framework of His body called the church. We didn't get this privilege by our own meritorious conduct. God's grace alone has saved us and allowed us to be a part of the church. We should count it the highest honor to be called by His name and to be allowed to serve in His kingdom. Are you a faithful servant of God? Do others consider you a blessing to the church or are you AWOL (Absent Without Leave)? If the reputation of the church you attend was defined by your service in, and to it, what kind of church would the community see? Christianity is much more than simply saying you believe. Christianity is living for, and like, Jesus. We cannot call Him Lord and walk in direct disobedience to Him. This doesn't mean that we are perfect in our carnal flesh. We all struggle with Satan and our depraved nature. What is does mean is that we submit, willingly, to the loving Lordship of our Savior. When we do this, we are yielding our lives as instruments of His using. We no longer live for the satisfying of our sinful self but we live to please Him and fulfill His created purpose in us. The church in Peter's time was enduring hardship and suffering because of their faith in Jesus. Their service to Jesus was intent and steadfast. Today, as then, by God's grace we stand. No matter what happens to us because of our faith in Him, we must remain steadfast and unmovable. Stand firm and focused in His grace. There is no other way to live and there is no other hope!
To Know Him
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 NLT
God, in His kind grace, has allowed us the privilege to share in His glory. His glory is the magnificence, beauty, splendor, and absolute utopia that is found only in Him. His character is so vastly beyond our comprehension, His ability is limitless, His knowledge is incomprehensible, His power is immeasurable, His reach is everywhere, His age is infinite, His eyes are omniscient, His love is inexplicable, and His grace is unattainable, yet receivable. Through Jesus Christ we know Him. Jesus manifested the Father to us. In Jesus Christ we see, and know, God Almighty. As we serve Him, in this depraved world we currently reside in, we must count it the utmost honor to suffer for His name sake. This world, and all it has to offer, is perishing. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8). Living for Jesus and enduring hardship for His cause is eternally rewarding. There will be a day when we will be glad that we accepted Him, loved Him, and served Him. On that day, all of the difficulties of this life will have vanished away. Eternal bliss in His presence will become a reality. We search for it here, in the things that this fallen state of life offers, yet it remains undiscovered. We see glimpses of God and His handiwork as we gaze upon the landscape of earth, yet we recognize our morality. The only place we can enter into the eternal glory of God is in Jesus Christ. In Him, this life comes into perspective, we are given the promise of eternal life, and we find the satisfaction for which our souls truly long. When we understand who He is, what He has done, and what awaits us, NOTHING in this life can, or will, compare. Knowing Jesus is the greatest thing of all!!!!!!! To know Him is to arrive at everywhere we've only dreamed of going. To see Him, to look upon His face, will be to see everything we were created for. This is our purpose and pursuit. To Him be all the GLORY!!!
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT
There is an adversary - the devil. He prowls around like a lion. A lion is a dominate predator. Lions live in what is called a "pride". There is one dominant lion in each pride. An invading male lion will fight the current "king" of the pride to take the role of king. If he establishes his dominance, he will then kill all of the lion cubs of the previous king so he can mate with the lionesses and repopulate the pride with his own seed. In Genesis 3:1-7 Adam was overcome by Satan's trickery and the "pride" called the earth was lost. The sons of Adam became slaves to Satan and sin. Satan wants nothing more than to kill all of Adams race. He lurks in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to pounce. He desires to destroy every seed of humanity. Jesus said this: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 KJV Satan does not care about any of us. He is a manipulative, lying thief. He is also a formidable foe. The good news is this: Jesus is the King that has never been defeated and never will. He is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah! (see Revelation 5:5). Jesus has defeated Satan and has given those who believe and trust in Him victory and authority over the illegitimate king. We must be constantly aware of the lurking activity of Satan and be ready for his assaults. He knows he is defeated but he wants to impede our progress and disturb our purpose. Until we get to our eternal home we will suffer attacks from Satan and his minions. Let us not be swayed in our faith and let us march on to victory in Jesus name! “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 KJV Stand firm child of God!! Stand firm!! Victory is ours in Christ. We may face battles, but the outcome of the war is already determined! Jesus is King!!!!!!! One day all men, angels, and Satan himself will bow in acknowledgement. Take heart child of God. We aren't losers. We are winners! Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ!!!
Give Your Worries to Him
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NLT
The greatest thought in all of humanity - God cares about you!! Consider for a moment that you are created by God and that you are under His watchful eye. God doesn't hate you, He loves you! John 3:16 makes this clear - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” KJV No matter how you may feel today, Jesus loves you! He has proven His love for you by dying in your place, for your sin, on the cross. He, willfully, died for us all. God is not some cosmic tyrant that seeks to zap sinners. John 3:17 says “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” KJV
No matter what is going on in your life, God does care!!! God is our Father. He invites you to come to Him with your issues. He won't send you to voicemail or place you on hold while He gets another call. He is accessible and available. He longs for you to come and sit a while. He waits patiently for you to come. The table is spread, the meal is hot, the chair is pulled and ready for your presence, and the Father's heart is yearning. He isn't repulsed by you. Yes, He is repulsed by sin, but not by you. His heart aches because of what sin has done to you. He reaches, with open arms, to rescue you from the quicksand that you feel caught in. Isaiah the prophet said this: “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:" KJV If you have sinned, all you must do is call on Him and confess your sin. He always hears the cry of a repentant heart. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 KJV Today, no matter what is going on in your life, cast your burden on the Lord. You cannot bear it but He can. Come to Jesus and find rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 KJV God calls us to give our worries Him. We do this by prayer (see Philippians 4:6-7). Take a moment today to read Matthew 6:25-34. You'll be glad you did. Come to Him and rest today. He's got it!!!
Humility Is A Choice
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”
1 Peter 5:6 NLT
Humility - thinking of yourself less, not thinking less of yourself. Humility is a choice. The scripture for today tells us to "humble ourselves". We are called to choose an attitude that submits to God. Our natural, sinful condition makes us prone to pride. Pride is destructive. Proverbs 16:18-19 says "Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.” NLT
Here are a few other proverbs on the matters of pride and humility:
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Proverbs 11:2 NLT
“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
Proverbs 13:10 NLT
“Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.”
Proverbs 29:23 NLT
Willful humility brings God's favor. Stubborn pride brings humiliation.
God has left the choice to you.
Humility In Service
“In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” 1 Peter 5:5 NLT
The word "Younger" has two applications:
1. Someone younger in their faith who is not in a position of authority, and not mature in their walk with God.
2. Someone younger in age.
I have known believers who were older in years and seasoned in their faith. I have also known believers who were young in age, yet well grounded and more knowledgeable in the things of God than many who were older in age. Jesus was 12 when He baffled the religious "doctors" (KJV) of the time. In Luke 2:41-52 Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Passover. When it was over, Jesus found Himself sitting among the great religious leaders at the temple. He asked questions and also gave answers. O how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in that setting. Jesus astonished the religious leaders, all who were much older than He, humanly speaking. They were older in human age. He was older in Spirit, supernaturally. He was the Ancient of Days (see Daniel 7:9, 13, and 22 and compare it to Revelation 1:7-20). He was "THE ELDER", "THE OVERSEER". He is the ONE we all submit to as the ELDER (see Philippians 2:5-11). I have been a pastor for 25 years (24 years full time). I began the pastorate at age 23. I started preaching at age 12. I was ordained at age 18. I must admit that I have learned many things along the journey. I have had the distinct privilege of pastoring two churches in my tenure and both had pastors previous to me that had been there for 32 (Rev. H. S. Scruggs) and 38 years (Rev. B.C. Jessup). Both previous pastors were in their eighties when I came to the churches. Both former pastors stayed in the congregation. Rev. Scruggs had been preaching since he was 15. He had been preaching three times longer than I had been alive. Here I was, age 23 when I became his pastor. I was 29 when I became pastor of Rev. Jessup. I was still wet behind the ears and yet they respected me and my God given authority. I loved both of these men. Both died in their late nineties. They are now with Jesus. We worked together in the ministry of God's church. We understood each others age, experience, and position. Not all young pastors can navigate through those kind of waters and maintain unity in the church and respect from the former leadership. Wisdom and humility are crucial characteristics in situations such as this. Whether you are a young person respecting your elder (older person - parent, school teacher, etc.) or you are an older person respecting your "elder" (overseer - pastor, employer, boss, etc.), God wants a spirit of humility and an attitude of submission to control your actions. May God give us wisdom and understanding as we work together for His name sake.
The Role of an Elder (Pastor)
“And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 NLT
The word "Elders" here refers to those placed by God as overseers of a flock (Pastors). What an awesome responsibility to be given - to lead a congregation of believers. I have said before that there is no greater responsibility in the world. Pastors get to preach and teach the Word of God, lead people to Christ, baptize believers, dedicate children to God, challenge parents to rear their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, officiate marriage ceremonies, conduct memorial services, visit hospitals, and the list goes on.
Peter said that he was a fellow Elder and an eye witness to the suffering of Jesus. He states that there will be glory to share in Jesus when He is revealed to the world. This encourages us to keep our eyes on Him and His coming kingdom. Peter instructs the fellow Elders to feed (instruct in the word, care for) the flock. He reminds overseers to do their services willingly and without the motive of monetary compensation. Overseers are to be eager to serve God genuinely. They are to be examples to their flocks. Paul said this to Timothy (a young apprentice in the ministry) - “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him,” 1 Timothy 1:12 NLT Indeed, it is the highest honor to serve the Lord in ministry. Jesus said this about those who are the leaders - “The greatest among you must be a servant.” Matthew 23:11 NLT Jesus said this about Himself - “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” Matthew 20:28 NLT Jesus is our greatest example of a servant overseer. He was God who became a man, to die in our stead, and to redeem us from sin. He taught us what leadership looks like. We, as overseers, aren't CEO's that sit in an office and tell everyone else what to do. We are servants of the Most High God and it behoves us to understand the grace He has shown to us. In turn, we are to gracefully lead those placed under our charge. People don't care what we know until they know we care.
Rev. Curtis Norris