Ezekiel 44:1-31; 1 Peter 1:1-6; Psalms 119:1-8; Proverbs 25:11-14
NT: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith — more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-7 CSB)
The Apostle Peter wrote this epistle to Christians (mostly converted gentiles) scattered throughout parts of Asia Minor. They were suffering rejection from the world because of their obedience to Christ and their commitment to following His ways and not the ways of their former life. Peter learned of their trials and wrote this epistle to encourage them in their faith.
In the midst of their trials and persecutions, Peter, before he wrote about anything else, reminded them of their hope in Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote that it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross – even though He despised the shame. When we have hope, we are willing and able to endure so much. In Christ, our hope is not just an empty promise or a guarded “gee-I-hope-so” expectation. Our hope is living in the person of Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead, therefore we will rise from the dead. He ascended to heaven, therefore we will ascend to heaven. He has been granted eternal life, therefore we will be granted eternal life. He has a sure inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, therefore we have the same inheritance as His joint-heir. In Christ, we are guarded by the very power of God and are preserved in Him for an ultimate and complete salvation.
As Peter would go on to say later in His epistle, the gentile believers in Asia Minor were once not a people, but were now grafted into the chosen, confident and blessed people of God. Even though they would experience persecution and suffering, they could look to their sure, settled, and guaranteed eternal future with joy. And as they endured through the suffering and persecution, God would refine them into precious and pure vessels of praise, glory and honor. What was true of the early believers in Asia Minor is true of us now. Their future is our future as we remain in Christ by faith. We can either gripe and grow discouraged at our current circumstances or look to the future with hope and joy, and allow God to refine us to bear His glory forever.
Psalms: “How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments. I will keep your statutes; never abandon me.” (Psalms 119:1-8)
Psalm 119 is a masterpiece of a psalm – an ode to the blessings that are found by honoring and following the law of God. As magnificent as this psalm is, no one knows for sure who wrote it. This psalm is an acrostic poem with each eight-line section beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As the author methodically went through each letter of the Hebrew language, he exhaustively described the benefits of living according to the word, will and ways of the Lord God.
Though this psalm was written specifically about the Torah, it can be applied to all of the word, will and ways of God. This is our hope as believers now in the New Testament age: through faith in Christ, our way is made blameless as we follow Christ in His way. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and as we are in Him by faith, His fulfillment becomes our fulfillment. In Christ, we are not ashamed. In Christ, we will never be abandoned. In Christ, we are truly happy and blessed – not just in this life, but for eternity.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for all that You have accomplished and all that You have already received as the Pioneer of my faith and the Anchor of my hope. As I am found in You through faith in You, I am chosen, guarded, kept, assured, confident and blessed. Help me, in all things, to keep my eye on eternity and not just the challenges of this world. Help me to endure and persevere because of the joy set before me, and not give up hope. And through it all, may I be a refined vessel that bears Your glory forever. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.