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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

1 Peter 5:8-14: Final thoughts

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” NIV

‘All grace is in God for every hour and need, v.10. We too are called to his eternal glory through Christ. The path of suffering, and that path alone, leads to the world where suffering is unknown. The suffering is only for a little while.’ F.B. Meyer, ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.617.

‘No matter what our situation, no matter what our need, God’s grace is sufficient for us.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.922. This is such a helpful comment, don’t you think, as we live in these uncertain times.

We sometimes forget that God is in the little details as well as the big things It could be easy to miss the significance of the reference to Mark in (13). But Mark wrote the very first gospel, and it is thought that Peter is the eye-witness behind his account. As Peter wrote his letter from ‘Babylon’ (Rome), Mark was with him.

Looking at the very last line, we can call to mind the words of Jesus:

‘’Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to your as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).

Oswald Chambers said, ‘When God gives me a vision of the truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only of what I will do.’

As our readings in 1 Peter come to a close, may I ask, ‘What has God shown you?’ And, ‘What will you do about it?’

1 Peter 5: 13-14: Not forgotten

As regular readers will know, in the past few days I have been particularly drawn to Eugene Peterson’s translation in ‘The Message’. Let’s look again at this modern paraphrase today:

‘’The church in exile here with me—but not for a moment forgotten by God—wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello. Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you—to all who walk in Christ’s ways.’’

 The idea of being a ‘’church in exile’’ seems to resonate. It’s not always easy to put into words what I feel about these many weeks when we haven’t been able to physically gather. We are very much still the church. Nothing can change that. But doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re in a foreign land, away from home? Like the Jews in Babylon, at times we could sit down and weep when we remember ‘Zion’. Early on in the crisis, I found myself in a ‘Zoom’ pastors gathering. One of the speakers told us we should take time to ‘grieve’ all we have lost in this season. This is not just a word for leaders. It’s applicable to us all.

But it’s good to know that we are ‘’not for a moment forgotten by God.’’ He was not taken by surprise when lockdown came, and He is mysteriously and wonderfully at work in the midst of this crisis, doing, I believe, far more than we can ask or imagine.

At times we may feel lonely, but we are not abandoned.

As of now, if we were able to have a small meeting, we wouldn’t be able to give ‘’holy embraces all around.’’ Even so, let me encourage you to keep walking ‘’in Christ’s ways’’, and may you experience His deep peace.

PRAYER: Lord, like Peter’s readers, we find ourselves scattered, but by pandemic rather than persecution. Nevertheless, right where we are, help us to walk in your ways and enjoy your peace, knowing we are not here by accident.

 

1 Peter 5:12b: Embracing the truth

” I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” NIV

’I’ve written as urgently and accurately as I know how. This is God’s generous truth; embrace it with both arms!’’ The Message

Discipleship is incompatible with a casual approach to the Bible.

I am attracted to this idea of embracing the truth with both arms. To my mind this speaks of welcoming it, loving it, feeling it, valuing it, holding it.

Try, with God’s help, to make it your habit to not just skim-read your Bible, but to hold its truth tight, next to your heart.

One way to do this is to take the text of Scripture and turn it into prayer. In doing so you meditate, and meditation has been called, ‘The digestive system of the soul.’

Don’t settle for the superficial reading of a Bible passage in your quiet time. It needs to become a part of you.

PRAYER: Lord God, please forgive me for those times when I handle your Word carelessly. Let this change from this day on.

1 Peter 5:12a: Dependable people

“12 With the help of Silas,whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” NIV

‘’I’m sending this brief letter to you by Silas, a most dependable brother. I have the highest regard for him’’ The Message.

Dependable brothers and sisters: where would we be without them? They are the backbone of any and every congregation. Although some may be in the limelight, most are not, but they are faithful. They are reliable. They get work done and people served, whether it’s noticed or not, acknowledged or not, applauded or not. It doesn’t matter to them.

But there is an appropriate place for affirming and appreciating people, as Peter does here. Don’t wait for their funeral to say nice things about them. There are honouring words to be spoken now.

Reading this reminded me of two older men in the ‘Elim’ church in Lancaster, Nic and John. Both were in their 50’s, and they were wonderful supportive friends to a young, long-haired pastor in his early 20’s. I will always be thankful for their hospitality, lifts to and from church (when I had no car), and many words of encouragement. John took me back to his place for coffee every Sunday night after church. Nic and his wife, Jean, had me over for meals twice a week. They prayed and fasted with me Wednesday by Wednesday, and Nic even had his car insured so I could drive it from time to time. (So he wasn’t risk averse!). These men were absolute ‘bricks’ – so supportive. As long as I live and breathe I will not forget them and what they did, and who they were. They weren’t famous. If I hadn’t told you about them you probably wouldn’t know their names. But they were ‘’dependable’’ brothers. Such people have a lasting influence, and their work is always known to God.

PRAYER: Lord, whatever else you make me, please make me reliable.

 

1 Peter 5:8-11: Not forever

“8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

This entails just a little back-tracking, but I thought it would be good to read verses 8-11 in ‘The Message’

‘’Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.’’

 We have seen that the context for 1 Peter is suffering. The church to which Peter wrote was facing hard times. But there is a key message to hold on to in this paragraph. Here it is:

‘’The suffering won’t last forever.’’

 An old negro-spiritual says,

‘All my trials, Lord, soon be over.

Whether your suffering today comes with a capital ‘S’ or a small ‘s’ it is temporary. It may feel like forever while you have to endure it, but the dawn will come; the day will break, and the Son will blaze in all His splendour. We have been called to God’s ‘’eternal glory’’, and by His everlasting power we can prevail.

PRAYER: Lord, in any sufferings we undergo help us to keep our eyes on you, and fill our souls with an ever-growing hope.

 

1 Peter 5:7: Cast it – don’t keep it.

“7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” NIV

A friend told me about being in a session, on a week-end retreat, in which the facilitator encouraged the participants to pummel this text with questions such as these:

  • If I’ve ‘’Cast’’ it, where is it?
  • Do I still have it?
  • Is it in my hand?

The philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, wrote:

‘You are to cast all care away; if you do not cast all care away, you retain it and do not become absolutely joyful. And if you do not cast it absolutely upon God, but in some other direction, you are not absolutely rid of it.’

Tom Hale says, ‘We may not be able to get rid of our trials and troubles, but we can get rid of our anxiety. We can give our anxiety to God (Psalm 55:22).’ ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.921.

‘God is linked to your little life by his tender regard and care for you.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.617.

‘’Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken’’ (Psalm 55:22)

 

1 Peter 5:6: God’s law of gravity

“6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” NIV

I had just finished writing yesterday’s note about the need to be intentional re humility, when someone sent me this quote from Dallas Willard:

‘Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort’.

Some effort is involved in putting on clothes!

In my view, today’s verse parallels Philippians 2:1-11. We see there this principle at work. Jesus humbled Himself ‘’under God’s mighty hand’’ and, ‘’in due time’’ He was exalted. This is what I refer to as ‘God’s law of gravity’: Whatever goes down must come up!

‘’Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…he humbled himself…’’ (Philippians 2:5,8).

1 Peter 5:5: All-important clothing

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because,

‘God opposes the proud
    but shows favour to the humble.’NIV

 

I love the idea of being ‘clothed’ with humility – indeed, of clothing yourself with humility. Here is something you and I have to do quite deliberately and intentionally .

Day by day, I don’t find my clothes automatically on me. I have to choose what I’m going to wear: decide what is appropriate for the day, the occasion, the weather, and so on. By a definite action I put my clothes on.

Similarly, every day of our lives, we must choose to don this beautiful garment of humility. We don’t find that we put it on just once and that’s it. Job done! Far from it, pride is constantly rearing its ugly head. It’s a continual fight to stay humble.

Paul, in passages such as Colossians 3:5ff shows that there is dirty clothing we must remove, and clean clothing we are to put on. This includes the robe of humility (Col.3:12). In Christ we have a whole new wardrobe to wear.

Peter, in this verse, gives a very good reason to choose humility. He quotes from Proverbs 3:34. A friend of mine would often refer to this verse and say he didn’t want to be a proud man because God makes a formidable opponent.

PRAYER: Lord, I realise that I will have to choose humility again and again. Please help me to do so, for I know that if you command it, you will enable it.

1 Peter 5:5: A word to the young

“5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because,

‘God opposes the proud
    but shows favour to the humble.’ NIV

 

I remember hearing about a young man who said, ‘When I was 18, I didn’t think my father knew very much, but now that I’m in my 20’s I’m amazed how much he’s learned in the last few years!!’

It is often a characteristic of younger people to think they know better than the older generation.

When my dad talked about how he remembered me in my teenage years, he would paint me as quite a radical, summing up the story by saying that I wanted to throw out the TV! Whether I did have that ambition I can’t remember, but like most teenagers, I did have strong opinions – especially about what it meant to be a fully committed Christian. I didn’t have any time for what I perceived as lukewarmness.

We have to recognise that younger people may know better than the older generation in some areas, and we need the humility that will listen to their opinions and insights; we should open ourselves up to the stab of their probing questions. It’s important to note that Peter goes on to say:

‘’All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…’’

 The church is a family in which we all need to listen to one another and learn from each other – young and old alike.

PRAYER: Lord God, whatever our age, may we be blessed with the humility that listens to and learns from the other’s viewpoint.

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