“Living Hope” ( 1 Peter 1:3, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Likely you know already that God “begat us again into living hope” and that He accomplished this through “the again-rising of Jesus Christ from death.” Notice the focus of Peter’s words here – his words focus on the work of God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. The power displayed in the resurrection of Jesus from death is the same power displayed in our birth into living hope.

Read it, ponder it, love the wondrous Word of God!

“Blessed be God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which by his great mercy [which after his great mercy] begat us again into living hope, by the again-rising of Jesus Christ from death [by the again-rising of Jesus Christ from dead],”

“Reason Of That Faith” ( 1 Peter 3: 15, WYC ) by Carley Evans

People worship gods of their own making; the reasons for this are explained in sociology textbooks — I’m sure. Maybe people worship stone carvings or imaginary beings because people can’t handle life on their own in this big universe. At any rate, apparently most people believe in a god, a higher power. Peter writes to the Christian:

“But hallow [honor] ye the Lord Christ in your hearts, and evermore be ye ready to [do] satisfaction to each man asking you reason of that faith and hope that is in you, but with mildness and dread,”

I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me why I have faith and hope in me. I’m not certain anyone is aware that I have hope and faith in me. I look in the mirror; I look about the same as everyone else. My work culture calls for behaviors that most Christians recognize as “Christ-like,” so I don’t particularly stand out there.

My defense, my satisfaction, is usually in written form — typed on WordPress and added on Facebook. I don’t know if I satisfy those who might want to understand the reason for my hope in Christ. Only one reason comes to mind: I hope in Christ because He takes hold of my life and never lets go.

“Called Out Of Darkness” ( 1 Peter 1: 16, KJV ) by Carley Evans

Growing up in a variety of churches, I admit never having much understanding of Peter’s call to holiness. No one ever came to me and said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, Jesus says it if I listen. This call to be holy in all manner of conversation makes me uncomfortable; I think it’s supposed to do that.

What is holiness? The word holy is an adjective — in English — which means:

1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.
2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered: a holy book.
3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person.
4. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place.
5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct: a holy pledge.
6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence: The pursuit of peace is our holiest quest.
I am holy because I belong to, am derived from and am associated with God, who is the divine power. I’m sacred. I am not worthy of worship or veneration. I do not live according to a strict religious code or system; rather the Holy Spirit guides me into the right way. I am set apart for a particular purpose, although I deny it is ‘religious.’ My life is solemnly but joyfully undertaken. I do not deserve special respect or reverence, but God does.
Peter writes:

 “15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1: 15-16)

In holiness, Peter says we do not conform to the evil desires we had when living in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14, NIV); rather we “live as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). We “rid ourselves of all malice and all deceit.” (1 Peter 2:1) We “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it [we] may grow up in [our] salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)

Peter says, be “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, so [we] may declare the praises of Him who calls [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

“Freedom Is Not A Cover For Evil” ( 2 Peter 2: 15-16, ESV ) by Carley Evans

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 2 Peter 2:15-16 ESV

Clearly, the will of God is that we, as Christians, should do good. He wills these good actions or good deeds or good behavior so that we may “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Yes, we are to “live as people who are free,” but we are not to use our “freedom as a cover-up for evil.” Rather we are to live “as servants of God.”

A servant of God does the will of God. The will of God is that we behave in ways which reflect Him. If we do not live in a way that reflects our God, then we fuel “the ignorance of foolish people.” Obviously and unfortunately, we sometimes fuel the ignorance of foolish people, because we do use our “freedom as a cover-up for evil.”

We are to obey those who are in authority over us — in this manner, we prove to them that we are indeed who we say we are: children of God, the Most High. As we show our leaders respect and as we honor the law, we reveal to them the God we serve.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” 2 Peter 2:13

Peter calls upon Christians to obey governors and emperors, masters and parents not for the sake of the human institution, but for the sake of the Lord Himself. In this way, men are not able to speak of us as “evildoers.” Instead, as we honor them, they may very well decide to honor God.

“Catching People” ( Luke 4: 42, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Presumably at daybreak, Jesus is trying to find a deserted place. But people — actually crowds — “are searching for Him. They come to Him and try to keep Him from leaving them.” These crowds want Him to remain with them, at their beck and call, at their command. And, it is not as if Jesus does not love them or want to meet their needs. Rather, He says to them, “I must proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I am sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)

The night before, Jesus rebukes demons that shout out His true identity. He commands them not to speak “because they know He is the Messiah.” (Luke 4:41) So, on the one hand, Jesus proclaims “the kingdom of God is near” while on the other hand He silences those who know He is “the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41)

Jesus preaches of loving God above all, of having faith, of avoiding sin, of forgiving enemies, of setting aside self, of giving, of acceptance of others, of freedom from worry and oppression, of God’s favor. Simultaneously, Jesus forgives and heals. Jesus does not preach of Himself; rather He points people to the kingdom of God. He proclaims, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Luke 4:8) And, He reminds, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things are provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus preaches the Word of God to the crowds pressing in to hear. Later, with a huge catch of fish amazing Simon Peter so that he falls at the Lord’s feet, Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people!” (Luke 5:10)

Jesus catches people for the kingdom of God. For this purpose, He comes to earth.

“Before The Rooster Crows” ( Matthew 26: 75, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

God is in control. Foreknowledge without changing that which one knows is synonymous with control. God has not set the universe in motion only to sit back and watch in bewilderment to see what may or may not happen. Rather God knows exactly what is to happen, when it is to happen, and why it is to happen.

Jesus knows His crucifixion is coming. He even tells His disciples the details. Jesus also knows that “before the rooster crows” His friend Peter will deny even knowing Him three times. He knows Judas is the man to betray Him, saying, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.” (Matthew 26:21) Jesus even knows the details of this betrayal long before they occur. He knows Judas is offered thirty pieces of silver; He knows Peter is to threaten the guard with a sword; He knows Judas is to kiss Him. Jesus knows He is to pray for deliverance from the horror of the cross, and sweat great drops of blood before He submits to His Father’s will.

Jesus – who is God the Son – does not change any of these events. Neither are the details altered.

Moments do exist in which Jesus appears to not know what is happening — one example is the woman who touches the edge of His robe so as to be healed. Jesus is aware power has gone out from Him, but He searches the great crowd to discover who has touched Him. Another example — Jesus sees the fig tree from a distance, goes to it, discovers no fruit and curses the tree. He appears to be unaware that the fig tree is barren.

I do think this lack of knowledge on Jesus’ part is just an appearance of ignorance. He wants the crowd to realize the woman is healed; He wants His disciples to know the reason He curses the fig tree. He must lightly feign surprise, curiosity, a lack of foreknowledge.

Jesus obviously chooses to limit His power, but He does not limit His full awareness of past, present, future. He knows. And because He knows all, He controls all. Jesus tells Pilate the truth when He says “You would have no authority over Me at all, if it hadn’t been given you from above.” (John 19:13)

“You say to me, therefore, ‘Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will? But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:19-20)

“Unless You Turn” ( Matthew 18: 4, ESV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus’ disciples feign wanting to know “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1) Imagine them looking at one another, thinking – for example – “Surely I’m better than Matthew; after all, he’s a tax collector!” – or – “I’ve got to be greater than Judas; after all, he complains about wasting an expensive ointment, pretending he cares for the poor.” Martha must think, “I’m better than Mary.” After all, Martha complains about her sister, Mary – implying that she is lazy. Martha wants Jesus to rebuke her for sitting at His feet while she prepares the meal. Peter even briefly appears to think he’s better than Jesus, rebuking Jesus for saying that He will be killed and rise from the dead. “Far be it from You, Lord! This will never happen to You.” (Matthew 16:22)

When they ask Him about being the greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus shows His disciples a child. He tells them that “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus calls us to turn and become like children. Sounds similar to turning back the clock, perhaps wiping the slate clean and starting over from a place of innocence and great humility. We are to think better of others than we do of ourselves; treat others as we would wish to be treated. We are not to put stumbling blocks in the way of others; or lead others into temptation. Jesus warns, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened about his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,” says Jesus. “For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“Seven Abominations” ( Proverbs 6: 16, ESV ) by Carley Evans

“Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

God mentions eyes, tongue, hands, heart, feet, lungs, (arms, legs — think about it.) The abominations which God hates are essentially the body parts of people who practice: haughtiness, deceit, wicked scheming, perjury, murder of the innocent, glorying in evil, and the sowing of discord. Their opposites are people who practice: humility, truthfulness, glorying in goodness, faithfulness in witness, protecting the innocent, and the sowing of harmony.

Peter writes that we “through the knowledge of [Christ]” and “through [His] precious and very great promises become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:3,4) Because of this truth, Peter encourages us to “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7) We are not to “forget that [we] are cleansed from [our] former sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

“Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3) For “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

“Set Your Hope On Grace” ( 1 Peter 1: 18 – 19, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

“You are born again,” writes Peter. (1 Peter 1:23) “Conduct yourself in fear during the time of your temporary residence.” (1 Peter 1:17) After all, says Peter: you are a “living stone, being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) “You are [part of] a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] possession.” (1 Peter 2:9) Therefore,”be holy, because [God is] holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Because you are a “stranger and temporary resident” of this earth,”rid yourself of all malice.” (1 Peter 2:11,1) “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22) “Be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) Remember that “you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:3)

“Now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him though you have not seen Him.” (1 Peter 1:6-8) Even in these various trials,”you are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5) “Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Everyone Who Believes” ( Acts 10: 43, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Peter testifies,”But God shows me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Cornelius testifies, “Suddenly a man in shining clothes stands before me and says, ‘Cornelius, God hears your prayer and remembers your gifts to the poor.” (Acts 10:31) God tells Cornelius to send for Peter; and Peter comes to a man — he once considered impure and unclean — in obedience to God’s call.

Peter testifies, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34) Peter tells us, “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.” (Acts 10:43)

“The gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out even on the Gentiles.” (Acts 10:45) Therefore Peter says, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 10:47)

“Therefore,” commands Jesus, “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)