Search

Home thoughts from abroad.wordpress.com

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Category

Uncategorized

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.

1 Peter 5:1-4: Deadly sins of the pastorate

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” NIV

It has often been said that leaders face major temptations in three areas – money, sex and power. These are not the only ‘fences’ at which pastors have regularly fallen, but they have repeatedly proven problematic.

Two of them are dealt with by Peter. Notice:

‘’…not greedy for money’’ (2); and

‘’…not lording it over those entrusted to you…’’

If God has ‘’entrusted’’ a group of people to us, they are not ours but His. He is their Lord; we are not their lords. We have a role to play in encouraging them to live under the Lordship of Jesus, but we are not to try to dominate or control God’s people.

John Maxwell has said, ‘Leadership is influence.’ It is not primarily about status, position, fame and popularity. The influence may be with just a few, or it may be with many. That is ultimately God’s decision. But nothing can magnify or diminish a person’s influence like ‘example’. Who can estimate the real power of a godly example? Who can calculate the havoc wreaked by a bad one?

To sum up, elders are called to recognise that they are under-shepherds. Jesus is ‘’that great Shepherd of the sheep’’ (Hebrews 13:20). The church is His possession. He bought it with His own blood. He is ‘’the Chief Shepherd’’ (4), and our primary motive must be to please Him.

1 Peter 5:2: ‘God’s flock’

“2 be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;”NIV

Wrapped up in these two words ‘’God’s flock’’ you have both the awe-ful responsibility and immense privilege of eldership. As we spend some days looking at these words about elders in 1 Peter, whatever else you may feel moved to do, please spend time lifting the elders of your church to God in prayer. Although they carry a burden, ask God that they will feel the delight of service; that they will be enthusiastic in their giving and caring. May they not be like people trudging heavily through a wet, muddy field in their wellies, but may they have a lightness in their step. Let it not be a case of begrudging duty.

‘’God’s flock’’

 I ‘just happened’ to read these words from Zechariah 10 this morning:

‘’The idols speak deceit, dividers see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah…’’ (2-3)

‘’his flock’’

 Don’t mess with ‘’his flock.’’

 In Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders, he said these wonderful words:

‘’Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’’ (Acts 20:28).

So, pray for all in leadership in the church, that they may give and not count the cost, fight and not heed the wound, labour and not ask for any reward save that of knowing that they do God’s will.

1 Peter 5:1: No big shot

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:” NIV

I read that, one particular year, the organisers of ‘Spring Harvest’ asked themselves, ‘What would happen if we had no big-name speakers this time round, and God were the main attraction?!’

I love the humility with which Peter makes his appeal ‘’as a fellow-elder.’’ As far as I can see, the first Christian church was not hierarchical in structure. This is something man has brought about, and oh how we love to hero-worship. Some people put themselves on pedestals, but it’s much more likely to be others who place them there. Peter did not see himself as some big shot in the church. He was an apostle, and had been highly influential among the original group of disciples, but he referred to himself as ‘’a fellow-elder.’’ He was one of the original twelve; he had witnessed the ministry of Jesus, but he exemplified the humility he is going to call for in verses 5,6. He was not one to ‘Lord it’ over others (3).

Sometimes leaders need to ‘’appeal’’ to people to be a certain way, rather than pull rank and insist on it. An example of humility is in itself a powerful argument.

Again you find here the connection between suffering and glory. It’s suffering first, then glory. Holding a position of influence in the church in those times carried grave risks. As leaders in the church, we are frequently tempted to want the glory now, and avoid any form of suffering.

PRAYER: Humble Lord Jesus, graciously enable the shepherds of your flock to follow in your steps of humility.

1 Peter 4:19: Keep going

“19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” NIV

Whenever you experience mistreatment at the hands of others (and the principle can, I believe, be applied more widely than persecution), don’t let it deflect you from doing the right thing. You can’t control anyone else’s behaviour, but you can do plenty about yours! (Obviously, with Divine help).

‘Keep on keeping on.’

‘’Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers’’ Galatians 6:9,10.

In the context of 1 Peter, we have the example of Jesus:

‘’When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly’’ 1 Peter 2:23 (see verse 21).

If we do what Peter says to do here, we will be following Jesus.

PRAYER: Help me to remember, Lord, that suffering is not a mistake. If I go through hard times, please cause me to recognise that if, in your will, you bring me to it, you will also bring me through it.

 

1 Peter 4:12-16: Insulted!

“12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” NIV

When I was in my later years at secondary school, God helped me to become much more open, and verbal, about being a Christian. Previously, I’d found it easier to keep fairly quiet, but I’d also felt guilty about doing so. Once I became bolder, I had many good opportunities to speak to a number of my peers about Christ. But being mocked in some way, or laughed at, tended to go with the territory.

When I try to imagine the sufferings endured by Peter’s first readers, and when I think about the privations and persecutions many Christians in the world today experience, it’s easy to feel that I’m in a different league; that I’m small fry. But when Peter writes: ‘’If you are insulted because of the name of Christ…’’ (14), I realise I’m included in this. You may feel the same way too. Because anyone who identifies with Jesus’Name (16) in this fallen world is likely to experience some measure of derision being heaped upon them.

Jesus said, ‘’Blessed are you when people insult you…’’ (Matthew 5: 11).

 We read in Acts 5:41 how: ‘’The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name’’ (Compare this with verse 16 in today’s reading).

Sometimes, as I travelled home from school, I felt I could identify with the apostles. No, I was not facing imprisonment or beatings etc, but I had a deep sense of fulfilment – of contentment and joy – that sprang from identifying publicly with ‘’the Name.’’ I believe that, as a teenager, I was aware of ‘’the Spirit of glory and of God’’ resting upon me, and that felt good.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you hung publicly on the Cross for me, bearing shame and disgrace.Help me to never be ashamed of you.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: