Jesus gave this commandment:  “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

But what if you don’t like the person you are to love? Then what? Do you feel uncomfortable admitting that fact? I do if I am honest and that is an “OUCH.”  Beloved this is not rocket science…we all seem to have fallen into this pit!   Remember James and John who audaciously went to Jesus and asked him: “Teacherwe want you to do for us whatever we ask.” [Mark 10:35] And how did the others respond to them when they heard this? Mark records that the other 10 became angry.

Can you relate? I can. 

But, Jesus used that as a teaching opportunity and we should learn from him. This was a time to teach them this principle: “whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all.” [Mark 10:44] Our servanthood should be marked by being willing to serve others just as Jesus served us. To be a follower of Jesus means we are known by this very character quality: loving one another. 

The Apostle John got the message loud and clear. Nothing like the lesson learned at the feet of Jesus! It is as if he is joining us over coffee and as we bumble our way through our confession, John lovingly reminds us that we must, it is not a well maybe I will think about it but we MUST not only love one another but we MUST keep the commandments as well because when we do we are walking in the same manner as our Master did.

So as we draw near to the time of our “hanging out,” John says we should endeavor to do that so when He returns “we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame.” [ 1 Jn 2:28 ]

Did we get the OUCH? I hope we did. Application Time: What will we do now?

Salvation is not complicated. The gospel message is as easy as A-B-C. Admit you are a sinner and in need of God’s saving grace. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and therefore ended and abolished the sacrificial system established to cover sins. His blood did it once and for all. Confess to God of your desire to be saved from this abominable sin and be freed, because the gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.

Yet many with their misguided zeal miss what is truly right under their noses. Salvation is a free gift from God just because He loves us. He has chosen you before the foundation of the world; he foreknew you and set you apart by the Holy Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Once you have done the A-B-C’s you are changed from the inside out. The old man is dead; the new man lives for you are a new creation in Christ! Yet those still abiding in their old man are not happy with you and will exert great peer pressure on you to return. So, Peter says turn the tables on them. Be self-controlled, be sober-minded, and love one another fervently. Show hospitality, and serve graciously.

Yes, salvation is right under our noses. We miss it because we want to do it our way which is idolatry. Step off your throne and let God sit there to change you from the inside out. It really is that simple.

 

1 Peter 3 Jesus lived a mere 33 yrs more or less. He went about doing good, healing and raising people from the dead. But in the end, all of the good he did was seemingly washed away by men’s hatred, bigotry and a denial of who he was. Peter is writing to believers who are facing trials and persecution. How do they and we understand his words:  “For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?” 1 Peter 3:13  when they see what happened to Christ? Or how about what Paul asked: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” [Rom 8:35]

How do we square those questions to present day sufferings that are unimaginable or when we read about those believers who are languishing in prison just because they believed in Christ?  Here in the west, we have not “yet” faced such persecution but we do face mocking and scorn for believing.  Beloved this is our preparation time.  We must remind ourselves of Peter’s first words: you are protected by the power of God.

Peter wants you and I to know that no matter what the enemy flings our way we are protected for eternity. God has placed a firewall about us so that “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.” [Is 43:2] and He will be a firewall around you and the source of glory about you. [Zech 2:5 author’s paraphrase]

Are you facing a trial which seems to have no end? Trust God that no matter what comes your way know that God’s firewall is surrounding you.

Photo Credit Connor Jalbert/Unsplash + Author’s caption

 

 

 

1 Peter 2 Have you ever felt on the outside; that you didn’t belong? You were like a wall-flower who is waiting to be chosen for the next dance. Beloved, as chosen, sanctified, blood bought believers in Christ we must not be those who line the dance floor of the evangelically ignorant waiting to be called to our position in Christ. No matter whether we are like these to whom Peter is writing, the foreigners and exiles, or free to come and go as we please not facing any persecution, it behooves us to know that in Christ we belong to the company of the priesthood of believers.

Continuing to use the word pictures from the OT helps us to understand our position using the analogy of the Cornerstone, then the “living stones” and now the position of a priest as part of the Temple worship picture. In the OT the people stood outside in the courtyard while the High Priest, once a year, entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrificed lamb seeking forgiveness first for himself and then the nation. When Christ shed his perfect blood and said “it is finished” the curtain between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was rent from top to bottom symbolizing that that the access to God is for all, not just one. As part and parcel of the priesthood of believers, we no longer need a bridge builder in only one man. Christ has become for us the mediator between us and God. [1Tim 2:5 author’s phrasing] Therefore, we are to have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus Christ as Kingdom priests.

Have you entered the Most Holy Place today to offer your spiritual sacrifices as Peter encourages us to do?

What are these spiritual sacrifices anyways? Tomorrow we will talk about that.