Jacob Morse photo 6/22  Steele N.D. Lenticular Clouds –  Twitter/ FB

 

In the book of the Bible titled First Peter, an apostle of Christ is writing to the church and letting them know that not only are they precious but chosen. Gods’ foreknowledge knew who would be called and who would answer that call. He knows also how to keep them. That is in the first chapter – in Calvinist and Armenian Bibles. The point – is not to debate that verse, but rather live it.

Are we living in the awareness that God has set out our steps to glorify Him? That we are chosen and have a purpose and plan before us every single morning, when and if, we wake up? Powerful thought and Peter will keep that thought before his audience until it works itself out in their congregations.

Here are some verses that were especially meaningful to our family this month:

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. ( 1 Peter 1:3-6)

Kept -–  Means providing protection against the enemy, i.e. He kept the city, “with a garrison.” It is used of the security of the Christian until the end and that sense of security that is his / hers when he puts all his matters into the hand of God. Phil. 4:7 is the same word “shall guard” which is not merely that of protection but of inward garrisoning as by the Holy Spirit. It means  a benevolent custody and watchful guardianship, in view of worldwide idolatry (cp.Isa.5:2) BLB.

God will keep us in the midst of storms and dangers – inside, internally. When we turn to Him, He will garrison and guard. In a culture that is producing fear at every turn it is easy to forget that God keeps us and our inheritance. In our church, we have enjoyed loving people in the streets and doing outreach in our city this past year. Recently there have been a number of  shootings,  robberies and one man was even found to have weapons of mass destruction. We definitely need to pray for our cities and their protection. Even when we were unaware of the danger around us, God has still kept us. We have walked through many things, often not knowing until days or months later, that real threats were present. God has saving  and keeping power. 

Dead men are not afraid. Dead women do not count the cost. Our lives are surrendered for His purposes. Peter was well acquainted with these issues. I wonder, when we exchanged our lives in the waters of baptism, if we realized we would be living out the bidding of a holy God. Would we still sign up?  Gods will can feel risky if we forget His character. The greater risk is staying home in fear. The greater risk is letting the enemy win. The greater risk is allowing a culture to go on believing that they are not important or that no one loves them. If our lives are not our own –why are we living them out in our houses or even our churches?

A missionary told my parents  (before my sister went on a mission’s trip) that ” hundreds of people die every year in their showers. Very few die on missions’ trips. If you really want to be safe – don’t shower.”  We  laughed, my sister went on the trip of a lifetime and our perspective changed greatly. There are calculated risks and then accidental risks. We rely on the prayers of those who love us and pray – it makes a difference. My husband often reminds me that the safest place to be is “in the will of God.” The cross was not safe –but it was necessary.

In verse 13, Peter will go on to call the church to prepare or “gird up the loins of their minds”. Prepare, and let your mind know that it is not boss. Francis Chan shared on Tik Tok recently (Gods Thoughts are Higher 6/22) that he was afraid for the younger generation. He said, “I think one of the most destructive practices of your generation is that you value your own thoughts way too much. When God says my thoughts are not the same as  yours and you want to look inside and tell everyone what you’ve been thinking and how you’ve been feeling, rather than opening up the word of God and saying these truths are way beyond mine.”  Wow. Our minds need to be saturated with Gods mind and heart, so we are ready for His will. Dead people do not sit around weighing their ideas or calculating their next move. They no longer do their “own thing” but the will of the father. We lean into God, and He keeps us –internally and externally.

God is able to save, keep and send.

Jesus was manifest in the last times – for us. The Holy Spirit was given for us to walk out the will of God. That is amazing – but we will only see it as we walk it out. It is designed that way. These words are so essential. Hear vs. 21:

21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps:   Following Jesus means we are going where He went and is going. He did not go to Starbucks and sit around and evaluate the culture and leaders. He did not do a top ten songs tour or start a 501c3.  He did find the poor, the uninvited, disregarded, and frightened – and did not leave them that way. You have big shoes to fill Jesus! May we walk today where you would walk if you were physically here. Be here among us, with us.

When Covid struck, many churches shut down and many leaders quit. Those already stressed out could not navigate the new ways to do things. Things were in a state of unrest when 1 Peter was written also. Some were persecuted, some beheaded and many were scattered. and Peter reminds us that when things get really tough –we have a Heavenly Bishop, an eternal Shepherd to call on, who always hears and keeps and guides. God does not get Covid. We are never alone because the Chief Shepherd is keeping us. I am so glad God is never blocked, barricaded or prevented from ministering to us. (Listen to You Tube: I am not alone, Maverick city).

Peter does not name names or point out specific issues but gives them a clear, concise roadmap to follow. Chapter 3 tells us, Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”

Isn’t it odd that Peter had to tell them that? The early Christians must not have been as sanctified as we imagine. ONE mind means they would be worshipping ONE God and being fit by HIS will into that ONE body. That would imply that they would not fit together into one holy habitation if they were each doing only their own will. ouch. Peter goes on to define what that looks like: compassionate of one another, loving as brothers and sisters, merciful and courteous. Later he will tell them to have ever increasing, fervent, boiling over love for one another. That is what Christs body looked like then and what it must look like now. In spite of chaos, trial, and persecution. Christs’ church, if it really is HIS church will be known by their unity.  Not uniformity – but unity centered in Him.

Peter exhorts them also to: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Preparation means we do things in advance so when the opportunity presents itself, we are able to perform the required task. Today – will you sit down and write out what your life was like before you met Christ? How did you meet Jesus? What has he done for you? Why do you have hope? Yes, the Holy Spirit can help you on the spot,  but it will calm your heart  if you are ready. You getting healed – that is a praise. You testify to what God has done for you. You getting a new job – that is a praise .  A persons testimony is what life was like before and what changed to make it what it is like today. It points to Jesus and His transformation power- you are testifying to what God has done IN YOU. The world is hungry and thirsty for hope – and your story of salvation. Peter exhorts us – be ready. Christ will be glorified when you give Him the glory for His work in your life. That is just the beginning.

Peter goes on to talk about God externally keeping the ARK. He constructed it with Noah  – not to sink, but to float. Even the early church knew this was a real man, a real boat, and a real covenant. Peter is telling us that God kept Noah and the boat – externally garrisoned. Inside, outside and in our minds – God will keep those and prepare those (katardizo -greek) who walk in His will. That is not just a cute story – it is essential in our time.Noah was strengthened  on the inside, before he got in the ark. He would need that to complete his task.  Noah built the ark outside, long before the first rain drop. Fortify inside/ outside — because the One who has chosen You requests it and because there are clouds forming.

Before exhorting them to watch in prayer and to love one another ( ungrudgingly hospitable) Peter tells them:

For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:  for He that has suffered in the flesh, has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may have allowed us to have done the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, reveling, banqueting’s, and abominable idolatries:Wherein they think it strange that you do not run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” 

What a powerful passage – and relevant to what we see on the news!

I will leave this as a sweet surprise for you to study: verse fourteen. What happens when things get dark, and we suffer? Something beautiful that comes no other way – not at church, not at school, not from a textbook. It is the supernatural benefit we can look forward to in these days. When one increases (suffering and trials), so will the other. Peter was watching this process take place  firsthand. What a wonderful teaching illustration from the man who walked with Christ. What a promise for those who follow after Jesus today.

We are to commit the keeping of our souls to the one who will keep us – inside, outside and in our minds. An inner witness, an outer garrison of angels, an alert prepared mind with Gods’ word. Peter knew the secret to fortification when Hell was being unleashed. I am so grateful for his instructions in this letter. For the leaders reading this – you have a special blessing promised when the Chief Shepherd appears (Chap.5). I believe it will make your stress, headaches, and sufferings worthwhile. God sees and knows all and rewards accordingly. May the Shepherds rest and love bless you today.

While we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus – the devil is also walking around– seeking whom he may devour. He is merciless. (See John 10:10). The church, however, is also called to walk – in His steps and  to be compassionate, merciful, loving. What if we also started  walking, following Christs footsteps? What if our main goal was asking God for HIS will instead of our own?

Peter ends his letter by saying:

But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.“

I know this is a little broken, long but it is important to me, to let you know, that praying these verses outside the four walls of the church, made a difference. Asking God for wisdom, direction and anointing is life changing. Doing ministry with Him instead of for Him is as well. It is time to stop listening to critics (and perhaps even fans) and start listening to the Lord. The clouds are gathering.

Here is a song to sing as you gird up the loins of your mind this week: Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me – SOW.

RenaeRoche2022

P.S. I shared this blog with some teens and they mentioned that the content reminded them of a Kanye West song, asking the Holy Spirit to come. I listened to it and we discussed the similar themes. I wonder how “one mind” will look in the days to come. Times, people and protocols have changed. Will God bypass those not seeking or doing His will and use those hungry and thirsty for Him? I was surprised at the depth of these teens questions and observations. Lord, help us apply 1 Peter in our lives today.