1 John 1
There is an old gospel song called Wonderful Words of Life. I have loved this song because of its lyrics: Sing them over again to me –Wonderful words of life, let me more of their beauty see – Wonderful words of life. Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty. Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life – Wonderful words of life! In 1 John 1 the life – the eternal life – is a reference to Jesus. The disciples knew Jesus personally and knew without a doubt that he was sent from God to be the savior and teacher of mankind. The disciples knew God through his word and knew personally Jesus Christ His son. The only one – as one disciple described him in the gospels as the one who had the words of life. He actually said (when Jesus asked if he was going to turn away also as some nominal disciples had): to whom else shall we go? for you have the words of eternal life.(see John 6:68)
Having this relationship with Jesus gave them so much joy they wanted to share it with everyone. Shouldn’t having a relationship with the one who has the words of eternal life fill us with so much joy that we want to share it too?
The joy comes from knowing the one who is eternal life and recognizing that all of God’s ways lead to light, and life, and truth. Those people who walk in God’s ways must emanate this same light and life, and truth. The darkness has no part in the light. We must walk in ways of light and not in darkness. We must want to share that light with others.
Let’s face it there is plenty of darkness out there. Sin is everywhere, and everyone has sinned at some point in their life. But the life giving, light bearing news is this: God is willing to forgive all who confess their sin to Him and cleanse them from their sins. Through the power of what Christ did on the cross we can all be put back into right relationship with our heavenly Father God. These are definitely wonderful words of life! And words worth sharing, and shining in our dark world. So maybe you will find yourself singing the familiar words : Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty, beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life!
2 Peter 3
Have you ever wondered: when will Christ return? That is a thought that I think every Christian who has read the Bible has thought at some point. We look with hope towards the second coming of Christ. There are others though who have given up believing or never have believed in God’s promises or the return of Christ. These are the mockers that Peter refers to in verses 3 & 4. We hear it today – everywhere people mocking the promises or even existence of God. But God is patiently waiting for people to recognize and honor Him. He is waiting for just the right time to fulfill all that he has promised regarding Christ’s return and the establishment of a new system under Christ’s rule and reign.
In the last half of chapter 3 the apostle Peter talks about the need for Christians to live righteously and soberly in view of the destruction of the wicked so as not to be destroyed along with them. He explains that our present heavens and earth will be destroyed in judgment – by fervent heat so hot it will destroy the elements. Everything will be destroyed – fire will consume water, soil, air, and even will consume itself by burning out. Environmentalists worst nightmares will come true at that point – the destruction of the earth by fervent heat. HOWEVER – this is to make way the apostle Peter tells us for the new heavens and new earth that will be made. This is a new heavens and earth where righteousness reigns. This means the new heavens and earth will be a place of peace, and happiness, where those who have hungered and thirsted after righteousness dwell. All those who have believed in the promises of God will be able to partake in this new heaven and earth.
I like to hike and have taken many hikes across the US and Canada. Each time I enjoy the beauty that God has created around me in this natural environment and his amazing creatures I see along the way. Although I enjoy the natural beauty of our current heavens and earth I am filled with anticipation of the new heavens and new earth that God has promised. What new natural beauty will be there. In our world today where unrighteousness and ungodliness seems to reign and wreak havoc in our lives won’t it be wonderful to inhabit a world where righteousness and godliness are the order of the day? I am looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth – while I still try to take good care of the one we currently live in and do my part to shine the light of Christ in the dark world – I can’t help but think to myself; how wonderful that God has made this awesome promise of a new heavens and earth to us!
2 Peter 1
The apostle Peter in his second letter to the churches encourages us and the early believers to exercise a life of righteousness and to grow in those attributes on a continual basis. The attributes or fruit that he refers to in verses 5-7 are the same fruits that are mentioned as the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-25. God by His spirit produces fruit in true believers. By producing this fruit Christians stand out in humanity and shine when they display these attributes. Even non-believers stand up and take notice of those people who demonstrate an extra amount of patience, or loving kindness, or those who do not loose their joy even in the face of dire circumstances.
Recently my mother went through her second diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I’ve seen the fruit of joy shine through her through this – even though she ended up losing a body part. She has been a shining light to those around her – keeping her joy by not losing her sense of humor. By being more concerned about others and their overall well-being rather than by wallowing in self-pity. She has been continuing to bear fruit even in her circumstances. Christians bear this kind of fruit and every good tree bears good fruit no matter what the circumstances. Every tree is known by its fruit. Peter is encouraging us and the early believers to continue to grow in bearing good fruit indicative of God’s spirit being multiplied within us.
In the last half of the chapter Peter fears that his time in instructing the believers will soon come to an end and he wants them to remember what is of most importance. The important thing that he wants them to remember is that Jesus truly is the son of God as was evidenced by him personally when the voice came from heaven declaring it so, and the importance of receiving Jesus as the promised Messiah.
In our walk with the Lord are we remembering what is most important and truly giving Christ first place in our hearts and minds as the son of God? Are we allowing ourselves to be changed so that we continue to grow and produce good fruit by his spirit within us? If we are not then we would do well to pay special attention to Peter’s words to the early church and apply them to our own hearts and lives as well.
I Peter 5
There is an old Amish proverb that goes something like this: There are two kinds of leaders: those who are interested in the flock, and those who are interested in the fleece. In the first part of I Peter 5 there is an admonition given to pastors but it is applicable to all those who hold leadership roles anywhere. Leaders are to lead by example. They are not to be dictators with an accompanying attitude but rather directors who are always directing people in the case of pastors toward Christ, and for other leaders directing people toward the greater vision with a humble attitude.
Peter encourages us and the early believers to honor one another and treat each other respectfully. Have you ever been around someone who frequently ‘tooted their own horn’? How annoying is that? Does it make you want to follow that person’s lead or make you like that person very much? Think about social media posts you have seen like this, or maybe even posted yourself. One Christian leader appropriately called out some posts as the ‘humble brag’ and targeted how annoying and self-serving they are. As Christian brothers and sisters no one should toot their own horn but rather let others give them any due recognition. Peter reminds us in verse 5 that God hates pride but appreciates true humility.
In serving God with a humble attitude and living a righteous life we can expect to have some opposition. Opposition can have two effects: either failure, or strength and growth. In the end of the chapter Peter points out that our adversary the devil would like to see us fail, and is just waiting to help us to our demise – but by staying the course God will give us victory. The admonition for us is to stand firm in our faith and righteousness so that we may glorify God in this life and thus overcome the evil one.
I Peter 4
When I graduated high-school and went to my Prom I was invited to several ‘after-prom’ parties. I knew that there would be drinking and other activities at these parties that I didn’t care to participate in. I declined several invitations and have never been sorry for that decision. What I did instead , was go with a few friends after prom to Dairy Queen and have ice cream sundaes and then back to my house where we watched a movie until the wee hours of the morning. My classmates all knew that I was a Christian and I most of all wanted to stay true to my Christian values as would be pleasing to Christ. In 1 Peter 4 the apostle Peter reminds the early Christians to stay true to their righteous values in a world that did not promote those values, amongst a people who would not understand or value their decision to behave righteously.
Our culture today is filled with sensuality (notice how little clothing some people and models wear), lust (always wanting more), and a constant appeal to the senses that drinking alcohol will make you popular, relaxed, fun to be around, etc. Now I’m not proposing that everyone go around in turtlenecks and never have a glass of wine here – But by being sensuous , lusty, or intoxicated we dishonor God and his good desires for our lives. People and friends may make fun of you for not choosing to participate in these activities but the apostle Peter reminds us in verse 5 that everyone will have to give an account before the Lord about what they chose to do, and how they conducted themselves in this life.
He goes on to encourage the early believers and us to lead lives of righteousness exercising good judgment, being diligent in prayer, loving others, being hospitable and doing what God has gifted us to do by His spirit for the encouragement and uplifting of others. In verse 11 he reminds us that God will give us the strength to do these things so that He will be glorified through our lives of righteousness.
We all one day will stand before the Lord to be judged for our actions. In the last part of the chapter we are told that we should not be found suffering for sins committed but rather that if we are found suffering it should be for the cause of following Christ in an ungodly world. We can trust God to be the righteous judge, for He is our creator and we can entrust our souls to Him.
I Peter 3
Aretha Franklin said it best in her hit song: RESPECT – all she needed and wanted was to be given a little bit of respect. Are we not the same? In I Peter 3 the apostle starts off by reminding the readers that they are to give respect and behave respectfully so that others will be won to Christ through their exemplary conduct. What it all boils down to; summarizing his words is that; in relationships mutual respect is key for both individuals, having the attitude of honoring the other person above themselves. Imagine if everyone in our world today adopted this same kind of respectful attitude. What a different world we would live in.
Have you ever seen someone who was dressed beautifully but then opened their mouth to display an ugly attitude? Isn’t it always disappointing to see? In this chapter the apostle Peter reminds us that true beauty is found on the inside. Our attitudes and actions towards others speak louder than the clothing or jewelry we wear or the hairstyle we choose. God desires for us to be beautiful on the inside and shine that outwardly. In our world today we seem to be bombarded with the notion that beauty can be bought or acquired through purchasing – however true beauty is a quality that cannot be bought or sold.
Further on in verse 7 and 8 He points out that answers to prayer can be hindered by actions and attitudes of not being respectful toward one another. We are not to be quarrelsome, we are to seek peace and pursue it. This is the righteous expectation that believers are called to. In verse 12 we are reminded that the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears attend to their prayers.
We are to live righteous lives being sure of the hope we have in Christ. In the final section of I Peter 3 the apostle Peter reminds the believers that they are to be sure of the hope they have. This hope is believing that Jesus is the only begotten son of God, that his death provides forgiveness and salvation from sin, and that his resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life. Belief in these things and the outward symbol of baptism is the indicator of the believer’s new life with Christ. With this new life in Christ, the believer is then called to live a life of righteousness that pleases God our Father.