11/24

November 24

I Peter 1

This letter was written from Peter, probably with the help of the Greek Silvanus (5:12), a man who assisted Paul on the second missionary journey. The letter was written to Christians spread around Asia Minor. These Christians were suffering rejection from the world because of their faith in Christ, so Peter writes to encourage them of their purpose and eternal reward.

Have you ever experienced rejection by the world? Have you ever felt the betrayal or abandonment of a Christian brother or sister? As we are reaching out to others for Christ, the sting of rejection is familiar. As we minister within the church, there is also heartache from the rejection of those hurting people who resist the restoration process or those religiously proud people who cannot stop finding fault and eventually lift themselves up and out of your fellowship. Peter is acquainted with rejection, and he is certain Christians all over Asia Minor are experiencing the same. As Christians today, we are no different than those who have gone on before us. We can gain encouragement from this book as we continue to stay true to God and one another.

Verse 13 says, “gird up the loins of your mind.” In Bible times, men and women wore long robes. In order to run, one would have to gather the end of the robe and hold up the fabric so he or she wasn’t incumbered and wouldn’t trip. This is the illustration Peter gives for “pulling ourselves together” emotionally and mentally. The world can be distracting, so instead of letting our minds go in lots of directions, we need to “get it together.” The cares and worries of life can pull us in lots of directions, so “gather your thoughts.” Sometimes things change, and we need to mentally make adjustments and refocus. If we don’t, our minds will scatter or stay stuck in the past. We have to stay true and keep moving forward.

In verse 22, in the Amplified, Peter writes, “Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.” Time and testing will often prove the ones who are sincere with their affection for one another and those who choose to love fervently from their whole heart. Time and testing will either shake loose or tighten relationships. Some will reject you, some will love and still leave, but others will remain faithful and stay. Focus on the faithful who stay. Focus on the ones who appreciate and value you. Focus on the ones who stay submitted and follow vision. Focus on the ones who are faithful to serve and give. We don’t have a choice for the ones who reject us, but we do have a choice to let them go in our hearts. It’s a choice to give them away, and there we find peace for the grief we feel when they depart. God is faithful to hold and heal our hearts, giving us times of refreshing that we need to continue to obey Him in life and ministry. If we fail to go to God and if we fail to give people away from within, we may not fulfill our calling or finish our race. It is good to remember eternity. It is good to remember our reward that we will one day lay at Jesus’ feet. Keep your eye on the prize! Life is short. Let’s live it well.

Ezekiel 32-33

Chapter 32 starts with a lament or mourning for Pharaoh in verses 1-16. He is compared to a young lion. A lion is often used to portray royalty or leadership. In verses 17-32 is the seventh and last oracle against Egypt. The language is both poetic and symbolic.

Chapter 33 begins the final section of Ezekiel that is written about the future blessings for Israel. These writings are both for the present time and for the future. The three prophetic fulfillments are for the church age, the millennium, and the world to come.

In Ezekiel 33:11 God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” The word repent means “to turn.” God is pleading with His people to turn from sin and turn back to Him. God gets NO PLEASURE from losing a son or daughter to spiritual death.

A watchman is the person who stands on the wall of a city to watch for an approaching enemy. The prophet is referred to a spiritual watchman, receiving discernment for what Satan will attempt to do in the spirit. The watchman is to give warning to the people. If the watchman fails to give warning to the people and the people are killed, God says he will require blood at the watchman’s hand. This is an ancient law (Genesis 9:6) and is intended for Ezekiel, the watchman. This is not a new testament concept. Many have tried to twist this verse to use guilt, shame, and fear to motivate the Christian to witness. They say if a person doesn’t witness, then God would take their life as payment for the one lost. While God does instruct the new testament believer to witness, the Bible never says that a failure to witness would be deserving of punishment of death. In addition, the Bible does not teach that the blood of the people who go to hell will be on the hands of the Christian that did not witness. Rather, the Bible puts the responsibility of knowing Him on the search and the choice of the individual. Fear is a religious manipulation tactic, as is guilt and shame.

In addition, watch out for evangelists that use fear or guilt to manipulate pastors or partners to provide for their ministry. As soul winners, evangelists have a special anointing to win people to the Lord. However, if an evangelist tells you the blood of the unsaved are on your hands if you don’t give money or create opportunity for their ministry, recognize that as manipulation.

In Ezekiel 33:30-33, God speaks of men and women who hear the words of the prophet, but do not heed those words. Verse 31 says, “with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” In verse 32 God takes notice of those who love to hear the prophet’s words, like a song, but refuses to put them into action. This is true in churches today as well. When the pastor teaches on obedience, serving, outreach, tithing, or giving, and a person doesn’t put those words in action, God sees their disobedience. He sees them as viewing His messages as entertainment, not instruction. People may say, “I enjoyed that message,” but not put that message into practice. God’s Word does no good if it isn’t applied. Let’s make sure we are not one of those! Let’s listen intently to God’s Word and the message our spiritual leader brings to see how we can obey and grow!

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan

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