Theme of the Week: Bible Reading
Bible Verse: “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” 1 Peter 1:3
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Years ago, when I was beginning pastoral ministry, I started keeping a “when I need encouragement” folder. I got the idea from a book I had read. The philosophy was that discouragement would come while working as a pastor. Therefore, the book suggested that whenever you received encouragement, perhaps in the form of a note, to throw it into the folder, so that whenever you were feeling down, you could turn to the folder for some refreshing.
I still have that folder; it’s a treasured possession. It was before the internet, so I have a folder full of handwritten notes and sketches from youths and adults. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I go through that folder!
The letter of 1 Peter is meant to be a feel-good note. It’s true that there are some “not-feel-good” parts of the letter, like when Peter talks about suffering (which we’ll look at tomorrow). But the context of the letter is that Peter was writing to persecuted Christians. They were like me as a discouraged pastor, so to speak, in need of some encouraging words. As a result, the letter comes out with a bang, trumpeting the eternal salvation offered by Jesus Christ: “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” (1 Peter 1:3).
Forgive me, but I sometimes think that we get desensitized to the excitement that salvation should elicit, because we’ve heard it so much. Sort of like a spiritual law of diminishing returns. We need songs like Phil Wickham’s “Living Hope” to set our hearts in motion towards God again. I love this song because I easily identify with the lyrics about turning to God in desperation at night, speaking His name, and how His loving kindness came to me and tore through the shadows of my soul. I hope that through whatever godly means, whether it be through a song, video, prayer, or Bible reading, to name a few, that you cherish the salvation you have in Jesus, if you’re a believer.
The hearers of the letter of 1 Peter weren’t especially liked by non-believers. They were often persecuted. Perhaps they were wondering if it was worth it to follow Jesus. Peter wanted to remind them to give praise because of their new birth into God’s family in verse 1:3. He would repeat in verse 1:23 that they were born again through the living word of God. The emphasis on “life” is found again in the “living hope” referred to in 1:3.
Jesus wasn’t a dead person. They needed to be reminded that Jesus was risen and living. From verse 4, they needed to know that the living Jesus had their salvation, their “inheritance” waiting for them in heaven, and it was safe and secure. Amid persecution and the uncertainties of life, they could be “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” for they were receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls (1:9).
Peter knew firsthand the mercy of Jesus. He and his fellow disciples didn’t completely understand it until after Jesus’ resurrection, and then everything clicked. You can see it from Peter’s preaching in the book of Acts.
Whether life is treating you well or not lately, if you’re a believer, I encourage you to “feel good” because of what 1 Peter tells us today and to praise God for His mercy and salvation.
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for giving me new birth into Your family. I praise You for my salvation, because of Jesus dying for me and now alive as my living hope.
Reflection: Have I become numb to the fact that I have salvation through Jesus Christ? Am I “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” when I ponder my salvation? Or am I more excited when I watch sports and movies?
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