Friday, January 24, 2014

Troublesome Times

Troublesome Times
I Peter

 First Peter was written for the purpose of teaching Christians to live victoriously in the midst of hostility.

The History Behind I Peter:

     Nero, the emperor of Rome, was born in 37 AD. After his father died, his mother married his uncle, the emperor of Rome at that time, and persuaded him to name Nero as his successor. Nero took the throne at age 17, refused his mothers attempt to control him and had her banished from the palace and then killed. He spent lavishly and behaved inappropriately executing opponents and Christians after setting fire to the city of Rome. 

     The fire was said to have started at the southeastern end of the Circus Maximus and ravaged Rome decimating 75 percent of the city. When Rome burned, the Romans believed that Nero had set  fire to the city. He had an incredible lust to build and in order to build more, he had to destroyed what already existed. Nero needed someone to blame for these atrocious acts, so, he used Christians as a scapegoat. The Christians were already hated by the Roman people because they were associated with the Jews and were seen as being indifferent to their culture. The lie spread quickly throughout Rome blaming the Christian community for the fires, thus, began the persecution. Later, Nero, with the help of his personal secretary, committed suicide, after hearing he was condemned to death by beating. Because of the great persecution against Christians during the burning of the city,  the book of I Peter was written.

     Peter wrote the epistle through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to encourage believers going through vicious persecution. He begins the letter by writing of the the great gift we have through God's gracious mercy and the living hope we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our LORD. We have an inheritance reserved in Heaven for us which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away. It is protected by the power of God through faith and for this we can greatly rejoice. Though we may suffer a little while in the trials and tribulations of this life, when we trust God through the difficult times, our salvation is proved genuine, being more precious than gold.

     Peter gives hope to the believers in Rome and advises them to "gird up their minds," to prepare themselves for action by thinking soberly and rejecting the hindrances around them. They needed to focus on the future eternal grace of God and be steadfast in clarity of mind with self-control. These Christians, undergoing such suffering, needed to fix their minds on the future events of God anticipating the second coming of Christ and God giving them eternal life in His presence. This is not a time to be disobedient or conforming to the former lusts of the flesh, but to be "Christlike" in their behavior. It is written, "BE YE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." We are to conduct ourselves in the fear of God during our stay on this earth, knowing we were not redeemed with perishable things, but by the precious shed blood of God's own Son (I Peter 1:16-19).
 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:"

      Don't be surprised when you suffer, that's not a strange thing, that's not an alien experience. "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:12,13). When you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exaltation for if you're abused for the name of Christ, you're blessed. You're going to suffer, but you have to endure with a right attitude, and keep on doing right. Set your hope on the inheritance to come in the future, on the revelation of Christ's glory, and rejoice in the midst of your suffering.

    Peter concludes in chapter 5 verses 10 and 11 with a benediction  saying,  "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." Does that sound like something you'd like, to one day be perfected, confirmed, strengthened and established? God will do just that after you have suffered a little while.

Thought: Christian, realize we are to live with the understanding that God's purposes for the future require some pain in the present. While the believer is being personally attacked by the enemy of our faith, we are being perfected in our faith, by the Lord Himself. Stand firm in your faith bringing glory to God until the day He comes or until He calls you home.

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