We are in week 3 of a walk through of 1 Peter...A Letter to 1st Century Christians who found themselves running to Five Roman Provinces in Asia Minor to escape persecution... Only to find they didn't fit in at their new location any better! Realizing they were aliens and foreigners in a land that didn't like them or their Faith! The persecution quickly began to grow in their new residence as well!
THIS is why the Letter is as relevant to us here and now as it was to the original recipients! As WE find ourselves in a land which is becoming more and more intolerant of US and OUR FAITH with each passing day...And persecution against what we believe grows around us as well! So listen as though this Letter were written to you today...Because in God's Sovereignty and Wisdom... IT WAS!
Peter wrote with a very distinct message of encouragement and instruction for these Christians...At a great cost to him and the messenger! Let's quickly review the flow of his thoughts thus far...As we continue on our journey through this URGENT Letter to us today!
Thus far... Peter has communicated to these increasingly disliked believers...You are right, you DON'T fit in... Because You are in a land that is NOT truly your Home anymore! But you have been CALLED & PLACED... By God... In this time and circumstance…Remember now... Why you are really here, and what is to soon come!
You WILL have a difficult time for a while here... Things WILL grow worse...
Embrace these difficulties…As a chance to show your love for Me...A chance to grow in Faith and Strength as the fires purge selfishness...And as your perseverance brings you much praise and acceptance from your Beloved when He Returns... For the passion you have given back to Him!
You belong to a sacred, ancient clan that sacrificed before you... For God's sake and for yours...Now... It is YOUR TURN to carry that Torch…For God and others...As our brothers and sisters from past times, as ANGELS look on!
Therefore... STAND FAST... STAND SEPARATE... Confident in Christ! Do not become a part of the world around you which has rejected Him! But live Holy and in Love... Because it is right...And because we fear & reverence a Holy God Who is Coming Soon!
Drawing your true worth and strength from the Price God saw fit to pay for you to be with HIM... To separate you from the horrors that sin brings to your life!And since you have chosen to follow Christ's Path... Follow His way of Love...
Begin by clearing your mind and life of the sins which have dominated you in this world... And will continue to keep you from growing close to HIM! This is the first step you MUST take before growing as a Disciple!
Now... Let's see how Peter instructs us to grow in a fallen, rejecting
world...AFTER we have decided to FIRST step away from our old influences!
1 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Peter says IF INDEED… We are now Children of God... We will WANT to lay aside all of these worldly things… Because they will not feed us anymore!!!!
We are born again... WITH DIFFERENT needs which can only be met by HIS WORD!
The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists... (1)
THERE IS NOTHING ELSE WHICH WILL HELP YOU TO KNOW GOD BETTER... (Want more of Him? READ!)
Nothing else which will cause you to GROW in His Wisdom, Love and Plan for your life...Nothing else which will protect you from the sins that will infect and eat you alive from the inside out! In this backwards, deceiving, lying, completely mixed up world...Which is failing miserably and living in sickness and depression...
WHY are we so hell-bent (literally) on feasting on what they have to offer?
And so resistant to feast on what can change everything about how we think and grow? With 100% assurance... I can say that... IN THIS WORLD…
You WILL FAIL... You WILL FALL... You WILL be led astray and leave God's Ways...
IF you DO NOT dig into His Word for YOURSELVES! And feeding on His Word is the ONLY WAY you will build a BOND of your own with Christ... You CANNOT do it feeding off of the lessons, comments and opinions of others! There are only two real reasons you are NOT digging into something so useful, so true, so unlike anything else on earth...
Either way... If this is you... You should seriously question..."Have you actually BEEN born again?" If you don't crave this Milk?! And don't say "It's just too hard to understand!" If your job depended on it, you'd master it! If you were promised a million dollars, you'd be all over it, trying! We master work skills, hobbies, talents, TV series... But not God's Word! The WORD... IS GOD... EVERYTHING ABOUT HIM WE CAN KNOW...IF YOU DON'T CRAVE IT... CAN YOU REALLY, BE CRAVING HIM?
1 Peter 2:3 (NKJV)
IF indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Peter tells his isolated audience THIS is the FIRST and ONLY STEP to growth...After TURNING our minds and hearts from the sin we've wanted so long!
And Chisels! After Peter tells them HOW they are to grow as individuals...He goes on to tell them how, as individuals they MUST grow as a body into ONE in Christ!
1 Peter 2:4-5 (NKJV)
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 YOU ALSO, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Please pay attention here...Scriptures are so rich and meaningful when read in context, just as they were meant! Peter says Jesus is like a "Living Stone" when we come to Him...in their culture, stones were very familiar... Because they were the main essence from which everything around them was built!
Peter was clearly saying that JESUS is the Living Essence from which
everything Worthy is built! And that... Though this world rejects what He is trying to build!
God sees Him as Precious...And has CHOSEN HIM against the world... In spite of what they approve or disapprove in their sin and selfishness...To build something Wondrous...Something that will be here when all this is gone!
Then Peter again, reminds them of THEIR True worth and purpose...Different from all the worldly appearances of rejection and disfavor by men! He tells them... THEY TOO... Are "living stones"...Being used TOGETHER... To build something ETERNAL for God! Peter tells the Believers THEY... TOGETHER...Make up The Spiritual House... HE TEMPLE where God now dwells!!
Get the significance of this statement...
The Temple was where the Almighty God of the entire Universe came to dwell in Israel! So Holy and Sacred that no one was able to approach it... Much less enter it!
And now... WE are the PLACE where that God now lives within this world! Please stop and think about that! How intimate... How unfathomable is it? That the Power... The Intelligence... The Love... The Creativity...Of the One Who is outside of Time and Creation itself...Chooses to make a Home IN and WITH US! Someone too Holy, Awesome and Mighty to even be approached... Before Christ died to make it possible! Choosing to intimately become ONE with you!
If we can even begin to grasp this Truth in Faith...Imagine the closeness, acceptance, true love and power we could begin to live and walk each day in...Kind of like Jesus did!! As He walked the earth as One with God the Father!
In this, Peter is also reflecting the beauty of UNITY in Christ...We are to be ONE... As God the Father and God the Son are ONE! Each of us ONE PART of the fullness of Christ... TOGETHER! With different gifts, strengths and weaknesses...Making us fit together to complete the House!
Stones must be cut and shaped in order to FIT PERFECTLY together! Make yourself a willing and eager stone to be shaped by the Master Builder! So that you can be exactly what He needs to build His House! Peter says we are not only the Temple in which He lives...We are the HOLY PRIESTHOOD in the Temple of God!
How is that different from being the Temple where God dwells? The verse makes it clear... "To offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!"
What are those "sacrifices"? Think about what an Old Testament Priest's role was in Israel: Other people did not have authority to come before God's Presence...Only the Holy Priests, who kept themselves pure, clean and useable...Could stand in the Presence of God! The Priests used this unique position to live their entire lives in Service to God...Everything they did centered Serving Him...And around BEING HIS REPRESENTATIVE to the people...
They would come before Him on behalf of the people! Making intercession and prayer for them! They would teach the people of God's Will when they could not hear Him themselves! And most of all... The Priests helped them put their sins and hope onto the Sacrifice that was Given for them before God! God tells us through Peter...THAT it is our INCREDIBLE CALLING in this fallen world...
To be His Chosen Priests...Set aside to serve Him unlike any other...Uniquely Intimate with HIM! To keep ourselves clean, ready and totally devoted to Him...
Over any other calling or occupation...To pray for His lost people...To bring His Words and Will to them...And to bring His sinful people to the Sacrifice that can save them! BUT... We are so different... So blessed beyond these Priests...Because we don't just work in the Temple where God dwells...We have become the Temple where God dwells!
1 Peter 2:6-8 (NKJV)
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
Here Peter tells us this Precious Stone, Jesus Christ...Is to be used as the Chief Cornerstone! The Cornerstone of any building was the most crucial of all stones laid! It was the Principle Stone laid as the Foundational Start at the bottom corner of a building! Usually the largest, most solid, most carefully constructed and perfectly measured Stone of the entire structure...Because once It was set in place...It became the standard for every other stone to be measured and laid! All other stones had to align to it for the building to take perfect shape! Peter said the world rejected even considering using this Stone in their building plans at all... WHY?!
Because the world sees this Stone as ugly, weak and useless...So different from what they desire that It seems offensive! So they completely cast Him aside and build on their own Foundation! Is this not an EXACT PICTURE of what has happened to our society? And now... Even our Laws and Government?
But this rejected Stone becomes the Chief Cornerstone! Meaning everything the world builds will have to be torn apart down to it's foundation!!! So the New Foundational Stone may be laid perfectly!
Isaiah 42:9 (NKJV)
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them."
If you and I understand, believe and follow these Words...WE are a part of building Something NOW...That the whole world will see one day soon...And what we do in rejection and shame today...Will be the Glory of the New Heaven and Earth!
Revelation 21:5 (NKJV)
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
That is how awesome and important your work for Christ is today...How can we be embarrassed, passive or negligent when we realize this?! After telling of the fate of those who are offended by this Stone...
Peter ends this illustration with these Words!
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
This Passage is packed with descriptions of how God sees us NOW! Listen closely and let this change your self-view! "Chosen Generation" or "genos" (ghen'-os)...Meaning born countrymen... Nation of offspring! We are chosen to be His literal Blood Family! Jesus is NOT ashamed to call you brothers and sisters!
"ROYAL Priests"... Not just Priests set apart and anointed to serve and represent Him...But ROYAL Priests...With all of the authority and access as Royalty in the Kingdom as well! We are the King's Children... Who became Priests...Giving unlimited access to just about anything and everything in the Kingdom! Spiritual and material!
"A Holy Nation"...Meaning a sacred, pure, blameless group of a select race or tribe! "His Own Special People"...Meaning "Possession!"... We are HIS POSSESSION!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
We are so precious to Him...That He PAID to make us His own with His very Blood!
So our very lives belong to Him... But we are in Good Hands! Because He loves us so much... He gave His Life to US first! So that we completely and passionately BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER! How's THAT for a wonderful, loving God? How's THAT for feeling like you are wanted and you belong? And just as He will do anything to have us...We NOW should do anything to be had!
So, in his Letter to the Christians living in hatred and insignificant rejection by those around them... Peter says:Shake their horrible, immature, temporary ways from your souls...Crave to learn all you can about your Jesus... READ! Because His ways will be nourishment and protection for your souls...Against the dark ways that would slowly starve and infect you! And even though you are seen as lowly, insignificant and offensive...Take your place... knowing in a Truth…You are building the Secret Kingdom that is Coming Soon...
When this one is taken down to below it's foundations! Because I love you so much...That I have given My Very Life to bring you into My World instead...
So that I can literally dwell WITH and IN you...Never apart again...I belong to you... You belong to Me! Live your life loving and serving Me in this confused world that lives for and loves nothing...
And I will give you everything that belongs to Me...As My Royal Children and Anointed, empowered Priests...Working through you to love and save our lost Family... Together! Because you once were completely lost, evil and headed for destruction just like them! BUT… THIS IS WHO YOU ARE NOW!
ALL BECAUSE OF WHAT I’VE DONE! WE ARE HIS EVERYTHING... OR NOTHING! WE ARE SOLD OUT... OR CAST OUT! WE ARE HIS PASSIONATE BELOVED... OR AGAINST HIM! WE LIVE FOR HIS KINGDOM... OR FOR SATAN'S!
You and I… May look as though we are beginning to be rejected and thrown away…
But just like Him…
In the end, we will be picked up and placed in that NEW TEMPLE… As a Stone… Secure on the Chief Cornerstone!
THE BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN MORE CLEARLY THAN EVER...
YOU HAVE TO GET OFF THE LINE!
AND HOLD IT!
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