Day 333: The Trustworthiness of God’s Word

Psalm 119:105-176; 1 Peter 5

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).

Consider the magnitude of this promise…

God will restore you.

God will confirm you.

God will strengthen you.

God will establish you.

These are huge promises. God always keeps his promises. These things will happen. When will they happen? After we have suffered a little while and God has called us to eternal glory. Delayed gratification…this is the life of faith!

But as we’ve studied God’s word every day for almost a year, one thing is clear. God is trustworthy. His word is trustworthy. His prophesies are true. His word is true. Our job is to trust and wait and obey!

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end (Psalm 119:105-106; 112).

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Day 332: The Comfort of God’s Word

Psalm 119:49-104; 1 Peter 4

Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

We are so blessed to have God’s full written word! As Psalm 119 so beautifully says, God’s word is our comfort and shield in times of suffering and affliction. The early church would have leaned heavily on the Psalms for comfort in the onslaught of persecution – but we also have the New Testament writings to encourage us.

1 Peter reminds us that the church is called to pattern its life after the Savior’s, so trials should be expected in this life (1 Peter 4:12-13)! He then gives instructions for how to live in the midst of persecution and trials…

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good (1 Peter 4:19).

This is the main emphasis of 1 Peter… First, we will suffer because Christ suffered. But we should not be discouraged but be encouraged that we are walking in the path of Christ under the rule of our Sovereign Lord who is faithful and trustworthy. We should be willing to surrender our lives to God just as Jesus did. We show our trust in Him by doing good in the midst of hardship!

Lord, help us to trust in your Sovereignty and Goodness when we endure trials. Give us the grace to persevere and do good in the midst of difficult circumstances. Thank you for the comfort of your Word and for Jesus… who died for us, who gives us a purpose for our pain and who provides an eternal hope beyond this life! Amen.

Day 331: The Goodness of God’s Word

Psalm 119:1-48; 1 Peter 3

Psalm 119…the longest chapter in the Bible, longer than some books! It is a highly structured acrostic poem containing 22 eight-lined stanzas (one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). All eight lines within a stanza begin with the same Hebrew letter. The theme of this Psalm is the love of God’s word. In fact, only 7 verses out of 176 do not mention God’s word directly!

It is a bit ironic that we begin Psalm 119 on the same day as 1 Peter 3 – which contains both controversial and difficult to understand “words” of God!

First Peter 3 begins as an extension of Chapter 2. Peter applies the principle of submission to authority to several contexts…citizens submit to governments, slaves submit to masters and at the beginning of Chapter 3, he teaches that wives should submit to their husbands. This isn’t a gender issue – this is a marriage issue. Women are not commanded to submit to men. Wives are commanded to submit to husbands. There is a big difference!

God has patterned marriage to mirror the trinity… The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in divine essence, but each has a separate role. Peter acknowledges that women and men are “[both] heirs [in] the grace of life” (3:7) – but similar to the trinity, husbands and wives have different roles in the relationship.

Submission (in any context) is offensive to our modern culture. But Christ’s submission to the Father resulted in him laying down his life! Are we above Christ that we are exempt from submission in our relationships? I don’t think so.

Peter then switches gears slightly to address suffering – which the church was already undergoing. It is in this context that we find the very confusing passage describing Jesus preaching the gospel to imprisoned spirits from Noah’s day (1 Peter 3:18-21). What in the world is Peter talking about?? Well, I don’t think Peter meant for these verses to cause such a conundrum. His point was that if Jesus was righteous and still suffered at the hands of the unrighteous, then the church shouldn’t be surprised if they suffer in the same way (1 Peter 3:13-18).

There are varying interpretations of these verses. Some believe that Jesus spoke through Noah to the evil generation in Noah’s day. Others believe that Jesus went to hell after he died and spoke to all the evil spirits – including the unrighteous of Noah’s day. However you understand these verses, Peter is illustrating that Jesus suffered for doing right – just as the church is called to suffer for doing right.

Then Peter links the flood waters to baptism (vs. 21) and concludes by describing the result of Jesus’ suffering… “[He] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him” (1 Peter 3:22).

So to summarize, Peter begins this section by commanding us to submit to different authorities. He then holds up the suffering Christ as the ultimate example of submission, and he ends with the truth that now all angels, authorities and power are subjected to Him.

Wow! What an amazing teaching!! God’s Word is deep and wide and living and active. His precepts are tantalizingly good!

In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word (Psalm 119:14-16).

Day 330: Light for the Gentiles

Psalms 114-115, 117; 1 Peter 2
(Psalms 116 & 118 were read on Day 271)

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117)

This hymn was sung by Israel as a reminder that their position and purpose was to be a light for the Gentiles…that one day all the nations would praise the Lord!

What a privilege to live to see the initial fulfillment of this Psalm – as people from all nations know and sing of his steadfast love. Together we form the worldwide church, a people gathered for the praise of His glory!

How beautiful that Peter, the Jewish fisherman who initially balked at entering a Gentile’s home, is writing to Gentile Christians and ascribing to the church all that was intended for Israel…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:8-10).

This is God’s mystery revealed in the last days – that the death of one righteous man has brought life to many! For this is the way of the Kingdom – suffering leads to life. If Christ learned obedience from the things he suffered, how much more will we??!!

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. […] He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:21; 24-25).

If you are suffering, you are walking in the footsteps of Christ! God is using our trials to refine us into the image of His Son. Take comfort that He is the Overseer of your soul!

Day 329: An Imperishable Story

Psalms 111-113; 1 Peter 1

Psalms 111 & 112 are both acrostic poems that are meant to be read together. Psalm 111 presents the overarching “big story” of God’s character and salvation plan. While Psalm 112 presents the effects of God’s saving power on the individual – resulting in a “little story” that brings glory and honor to Him.

This is the same pattern that Peter uses in his opening chapter of his letter to the dispersed Gentile Christians.

Peter uses beautiful, graphic language to paint the glorious big picture of salvation for the believer…

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

With the larger story in mind, Peter then encourages these suffering Christians to live out a “smaller story” in a manner that will bring glory to God!

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct (1 Peter 1:13-15).

Likewise, we are to keep the sweeping  big story of redemption – from creation to our heavenly future – always before us as we struggle as spiritual exiles in this dark and difficult world. This eternal perspective enables us to live our individual stories with passion and zeal for our Savior!