“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3a)
Entering my third week of bed rest, I am quickly learning many realities about myself that I may not have ever discovered had I not had this time alone. What a blessing, for the Lord to so position me that I have endless amounts of time to think, pray, praise, and reflect. While it is easy to begin wishful thinking of being up and around, out and about, socializing and fellowshipping, I have to trust that I am exactly where God wants me today!
I began studying 1 Peter today, and didn’t get very far. I just want to sit and soak up each word and truth found in the first verses, and not miss one thing God has to show me through His Word. To begin, I am learning that every day of my life and every situation I find myself in must begin and end in praise. It is imperative that praise to God is at the forefront of my life. Some may find this hard to digest…how can a person praise when faced with a difficult circumstance? Can a person praise when persecuted or in the midst of trials? Absolutely, for the key to true praise is having complete attention and focus on the One who deserves our praise. If praise is centered on self or situations, then the object of my attention has been wrongly placed. My praise to God is not based on who I am, what I have done, or where I am, but rather is completely based on who He is, what He has done, where He is…He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, His works are matchless for He is all-mighty and all-powerful, and He is seated high upon a throne in the heavens above. That is where my praise is focused…it is all about Him and all for Him.
Peter gives two reasons we can praise in verses 3 and 5 of chapter 1. Two reasons to praise God are because of the new birth we have received because of His mercy and because of the protection we receive by God’s power! Honestly, if I had never been born again and brought into new life in Christ, I cannot imagine the inner turmoil, lack of trust, worry and distress I would be in. There is simply no other way to live than in the arms of Christ as one of His beloved children.
Regarding this new birth, Peter gives two descriptions of what we are born into. First, I am born into a living hope! I LOVE this!!! Because of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, my hope, faith, and belief are not resting on a “god” who is dead and powerless, rather my faith is based on the One who has conquered death and reigns victoriously. It is because of His resurrection that I can live triumphantly! Hallelujah! So, first we are born into a living hope (Amen!) but second we are born into an everlasting inheritance…one that can never perish, spoil or fade. This is the inheritance we will receive once we pass from this life into eternity. I am so thankful that not only does God have a victorious life for the believer in the here and now, but He also promises an everlasting inheritance in eternity. There is truly no other life that I would rather live than this one.
So we praise God for the new birth we have been given, and we also praise Him for the protection we are provided with by God’s power (vs. 5). I believe many people misunderstand this protection. Many times, when faced with a difficult circumstance or trial a believer will be tempted to think that God has let them down…that He did not come through, but Peter dispels this lie and gives clarity to why believers go through trials. Peter says, “In this (speaking of the shield we receive by God’s power), you greatly rejoice, though now, for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1:6). He makes clear that believers will face trials, but gives the reason in verse 7, “these have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus is revealed”. I pray that my faith is being proved genuine. Looking around, there are people who face much greater challenges, crises, and circumstances than I do, but in my own way, through my own challenges, I desire that my faith is proven to be real, lasting, genuine, and strong. And as a result of that faith, that Jesus would receive complete praise, glory and honor in my life! If that is not something to live for I don’t know what is…may He be exalted and lifted high!!!