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1 Peter

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Different Suffering

1 Peter 4:15

The Bible says a lot about suffering. Peter makes it a theme of his letters, because of the imminent persecution of the early church. But it is possible to assume that God's blessing upon those who suffer, will apply to Christians whatever the cause. Peter now addresses this misunderstanding. Although we will feel the pain of persecution, we should also feel the pain of our own wrongdoing - the natural consequence of going against God's will.

Pain Without Shame

1 Peter 4:16

Physical pain is intended to be very helpful. It is a way of telling us that something is wrong and a remedy is needed. But in many diseases, pain can play tricks on us - either failing to give the right signal, or giving the wrong ones. In this corrupted world, even moral pain can be manipulated by Satan. Sometimes, we get into trouble for doing what is right; from those who are resisting Jesus (even if they do not realise what they are doing!). The devil then deceives the believer's sensitive conscience, by suggesting that the reason for their pain is that they are in the wrong.

Just The Beginning

1 Peter 4:17-18

People say that God is love and will never harm His children. That is true. But in the same way that a truly loving father will discipline his children, our loving God disciplines us. However unpleasant persecution may be, it is used by God to refine His people and strengthen those who want to trust Him more. So, for the devoted believer, persecution enables faith to grow. The sad reality is that without problems, we would be inclined to live in our own strength and not by faith in the Lord.

Simply Trusting

1 Peter 4:19

What do you do when you cannot do anything? The Bible gives one answer, simply trust in the Lord. Indeed this advice is also very helpful when there are many possible courses of action, when our human flesh incites us to take action to mitigate the problem, before the Lord has given any instructions. Suffering makes us, initially, want to rise up above it; but Peter says, don't ... put yourself under the Lord.

Leadership Temptations

1 Peter 5:1

Every leader with human motivations will use their authority to do a number of things: to achieve the purpose of the appointment, to fulfil personal ambition, to devise ways of combating problems, to gather a group of supporters, to gain personal benefit and to ensure that the office is held as long as the person wants to remain. However, all this can be done without any Divine help, simply by the energy and wisdom of the flesh. You see it in politics, in business, in the professions and, alas, too often in the church. Peter now advises church leaders to have a different viewpoint.

Leadership Diversions

1 Peter 5:2-3

It is not easy to be a leader, in any field. Although this passage refers to spiritual leadership in the church, the principles also apply in the professions, business, academia and in the family. Indeed, it is amazing to see how modern books on leadership, management and parenting advocate a return to Christian ethics (even if they are not described as such, nor their Biblical origin recognised). Shakespeare was a good observer; he wrote, "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" (Twelfth Night Act III Scene I).

Long Term Benefits

1 Peter 5:4

Peter has just told church leaders not to serve with reluctance, or be greedy for money or power (1 Peter 5:2-3). Such behaviour is the way of the world, inspired by Satan's lies and is unprofitable to God's kingdom.

The Spiritual Chain of Humility

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way that church leaders must accept the authority of the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 5:2-4), younger men should submit to the leaders.

Transformation In God's Time

1 Peter 5:6

Every follower of Jesus is commanded to dismiss pride and embrace humility. In this chapter alone (1 Peter 5:1-5), Peter has given five reasons: Jesus was humble; we are saved to serve; God opposes proud people; God gives grace to humble people; Jesus is bringing His reward to humble people.

Stress Management

1 Peter 5:7

Have you noticed all the training resources in 'soft management skills'. At considerable cost, businesses are teaching their staff: people matter more than things; that how you do things matters as much as what you do; how to handle other people's aggression; and how to prevent internal stress from crippling the individual and the business. All good stuff (mostly!), but hardly original. Jesus demonstrated how to do it all perfectly and the Bible has been training the followers of Jesus to live like Him for 2000 years. It is simply normal Christian discipleship.