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1 Peter 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11

SCRIPTURE: 1 PETER 1

Today we have the privilege of starting a new book, 1 Peter.  As indicated by its title, this book was written by the Apostle Peter.  In the Gospels, he is known as Simon, Simon Bar Jonah (Simon Son of John), Cephas, and Simon Peter.  Simon was his given name.  Simon Bar Jonah was more of his legal name.  Cephas was his Aramaic name.  Peter was the name that Jesus gave him.  That is a lot of names but if you think about it each one of us is known by a variety of names and titles as well.

Peter is writing to a group of people that are also known by a variety of names depending on what translation you happen to be reading.  The ESV refers to them as exiles.  The New American Standard calls them aliens.  The NIV and King James Version use the word strangers.  The New King James uses another word entirely: pilgrims.  So which is right? 

Actually all of them are accurate.  The original Greek word refers to people who are living in a place that is not their true home.  There are a couple of ways to take this.  First, notice that Peter refers to them as part of the dispersion or as “being scattered”.  In other words, these folks were primarily former Jews who had lived in Jerusalem and then left.  They were living in different regions of the world most of which were located in modern day Turkey.  So, these folks who living in a different place then they would have called “home”.  The other way to take this is that all believers regardless of where they live on this earth are not “home” yet.  Heaven is home for Christ followers.  Among other things that means all the days we spend on this earth, we are living in a place that is not actually our home. 

The other interesting thing about Peter’s introduction is he refers to these people as “elect”.  That term simply means chosen.  But don’t miss the point that they are “elect” according to the “foreknowledge” of God.  That doesn’t say the “forechoosing” of God but the foreknowledge of God. 

There are some that believe that God has already chosen everyone who is going to be saved which would necessarily mean that only the folks in that select group will be saved and everyone else is out.  But this verse does not say they are elect because of God’s choosing.  They are elect because of God’s knowing.  In other words, as God looks down the avenue of time, He knows who is going to be saved and who is not going to be saved.  That doesn’t mean He has chosen some for salvation and some for damnation.  He simply knows who will be saved and who will not.  (That is a function of his omniscience.)  So these folks are elect because God knew they would be saved and not because He selected only them to be saved.

When we get to verse 3, we find what many believe to be the theme of this letter.  It is the concept of a “living hope”.  Our hope is living because the object of our hope, Jesus, is alive.  Our hope of going “home” someday is based in the truth that God raised Jesus from the dead.  And our hope is based in the incredible truth that our inheritance (that which is to come) cannot perish (is immortal), cannot be defiled or spoiled, and does not fade away.  Instead our inheritance is kept or guarded in heaven.

What a great promise.  Our hope of heaven is being guarded.  It is safe.  It is secure.  It will be there when the time comes for us to leave this earth which is not our home and fly away to heaven which is our home. 

And this means I have used up all my space today.  I regret that because there is so much more in this chapter that we should walk through and wrestle with.  I would encourage you to read back through the chapter.  It really is just full of great stuff.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Thessalonians 5

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8

SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 5

For a long, long time a lot of folks have wondered about how all of this will end.  They have been curious about how all of this culminates.  And, many times, they have been fearful of the last days. 

God, in His graceful sovereignty, has told us much about the last days and end times.  But, in His graceful sovereignty, He has also withheld some of the details.  For His own reason, He has refused to tell us when the last days and end times will “officially” begin.  But He has told us what to look for and what will happen.

At the end of the previous chapter, Paul wrote to us about the rapture of the church.  The word rapture does not actually appear in the Bible.  But don’t let that cause you to question the reality of it.  The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible either.  The word rapture actually comes from a Latin word which means to catch up or to be caught up (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

This catching up or rapture is actually a prophetic sign that the end times have come upon the earth.  At the rapture, the church (all Christ followers) will be taken physically to heaven.  That many countless people disappearing simultaneously will throw the world into an unprecedented turmoil.  And out of that turmoil, the antichrist will rise with “all of the solutions to all of the world’s problems”.  And he will soon become the one world ruler.

In verse 2, the Bible speaks of the “Day of the Lord”.  This phrase can refer to a 24 hour period or to a longer time period.  Here it refers to the seven year period of great tribulation that will begin at the very moment the church is raptured.  Although other very intelligent and well-meaning folks might point to a different eschatological calendar, I am quite convinced that the rapture is the first domino that falls and that it is what starts all of the other dominos falling until the Second Coming of Jesus occurs.

In other words, the church (Christ followers) will not be on the earth during the Great Tribulation.  Verse 9 says God has not destined us for wrath.  And if you will take a look at the Revelation, you will notice that after the end of Revelation 3, the church is not seen on the earth again until she returns with Jesus at His Second Coming.  For those reasons and others, I believe the church will not go through the Great Tribulation.

Although we as Christ followers will not be here for the Great Tribulation, we still need to know about it.  I could make a very similar statement about hell.  Christ followers will not be in hell but it is helpful for us to know about it.  So, God tells us much about what will happen during the Great Tribulation. 

Why would God want us to know about that?  The closer the earth gets to the Great Tribulation, the more things will come into line to make the events of that seven year period possible.  In other words, we can see things happening today that point to the Great Tribulation.  The closer we get to the Great Tribulation, the closer we have to be to the rapture of the church.

Like us, the Thessalonians had lots of questions about all of this.  There is nothing wrong with asking those questions and struggling for answers.  But we should be careful about getting so wrapped up in eschatology that we forget to live out the Christian life.  So, in verses12-22, Paul kind of gives us a laundry list of things we should be doing in the meantime.  Those are really good things for all of us to strive for.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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