Monday, July 31, 2017
I must apologize that this week's posts are slightly out of order....we began going verse-by-verse through I Peter last week, and I should have first given a brief overview so that we can familiarize ourselves with the themes we will find here.
I hope that you will bear with me, as my study times have become a bit erratic. My better half has experienced some issues with his back, and I'm juggling things here. Pray for me, please! (Grin)
Remember we talked last week about trials? Some verses in I Peter call these suffering. Let's use them interchangeably for now, OK?
You know how annoying it is when people try to talk about things they know nothing about? Some people are nice about it, and freely admit that they are making "shots in the dark." Others, however, are pretty arrogant. They think that their study and knowledge makes them experts, even though they have never experienced what we are going through -- and they drone on about how we should handle things. They give us all kinds of advice.
Peter, however, was not one of those people.
He knew exactly what he was talking about. You see, Peter has been there. Done that.
The historical and the Biblical records agree that Herod had already put James to death, and arrested Peter. His plans were to execute Peter, too. Remember the story of how Peter was delivered? When the angel of the Lord arrived at the prison, Peter was sleeping! I've always loved that -- oh, to have the peace that passes understanding, and allows one to sleep in the midst of trials!
I mean, come on, now......the "old" Peter would have been feverishly thinking of escape plans!
Am I right?
He would have been thinking about sawing through the bars of the cell, or picking the locks on his chains. He might have been planning to tunnel his way out.
Instead, this "new" Peter was sound asleep. He is not the same man that we read about in the gospel accounts.
This is completely consistent with Peter's teachings in his first letter to the church folks. Here is what he says about suffering and trials, in each of the five chapters that we Christians have divided up:
In chapter one, he says that suffering is the will of God, and that it purifies our faith, and brings glory to God.
In chapter two, Peter tells us that suffering for sin is no good at all, but innocent suffering is commended. He sets forth the example of Christ for us to study.
Chapter three may be difficult for us at first, because Peter says that suffering and trials are blessings! They can bless us in three ways: opening the door for us to witness, leading to the salvation of others, and being a path to glory.
The fourth chapter says that trials are an encouragement to us, for it happens when godless people are upset by the change in our lives, and the shadow it casts on their own behavior. He also tells us again that we should not be surprised by our trials, but rejoice in them. That may be a tall assignment, but we will get into it in the coming weeks!
He concludes his letter by saying in the fifth chapter that suffering and trials are the same the world over. That our experiences are similar to believers in the body of Christ, no matter what the geographical location. And he encourages us with the assertion that after our trials, we will enter into God's eternal glory; Peter says that God will confirm, strengthen, and establish us. (Wow, we could study that verse for a long time!)
Again, please bear with me for allowing this study to get a little off-track. Hopefully I will be able to keep up -- Lord willing and the creek "don't rise"!!