I keep hearing the Spirit ask me “What else comes to the forefront when you think of the chosen race?” If I had to answer in one word, that word would be “victory”. As long as the Israelites were obedient to the Lord, He would go before them and victory was theirs. All the other nations feared the Israelites, not because they were great warriors, but because their God fought for them! (Joshua 2:9-11) “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.” “For we have heard how the Lord…” “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.“ (Joshua 2:11)
That victory didn’t change when Jesus Christ came but it does look a little different today, but my personal belief is that it looks different because even those who are believers have changed and have become so tainted by the world, that we don’t look different from the world, and we have lost our relationship with the Lord to the point that we have almost denied that the Holy Spirit can do anything. Still worse, we ask Him to bless OUR plans and go before us to win the battle! When is the last time you asked God what HIS desire was and joined Him in it? That is where the victory lies.
Several months ago when Gaza was furiously firing rockets into Israel, they were not hitting their targets. One of the men in Gaza stated that it was as if their God (the Israelites) was redirecting the rockets and turning them back onto them! That’s what God wants to do today...if only we would allow Him!
But there is a second aspect, that we really don’t like to think about in the United States, even though we are seeing the trend shift to the hatred of Christians. Those living in other parts of the world suffer persecution daily because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They not only suffer, they are killed for their faith. No other reason, just that they are followers of Jesus Christ.
The ones that Peter is addressing in this letter are those who are being persecuted because of their faith. He is reminding them who they are in Christ. Listen to what he tells them in this letter,
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Peter 2:21) (emphasis mine) However, remember, this letter is as relevant to you and me today as it was to the believers at that time! You may want to stop at this point and go before the Lord to hear His heart as to this verse. It’s a serious verse and it is for you and me today! Is this the path you are willing to walk? Jesus told His disciples “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)
What is different about the narrow gate? It is the way of the cross. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) In my devotions today the following verse struck me, reminding me that the way is the way of the cross. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3) There is freedom in death! We hope that it is not literally being hung on a cross, but at the least, it is putting to death our lustful desires, pride, control, etc.
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” (Romans 6:8) This is the walking out of our faith. Each of us needs to be in close conversation with our Lord and Savior to see how that journey is going! This morning as I was in the Word and worshipping the Lord, I felt a sadness as I reflected on the body of Christ and see so many burdened down because they have decided that they need to take care of things themselves. Oh, they will say they believe in Jesus and even say they love Him, but when it comes to their personal lives, they say they need to take care of things themselves. They are in broken relationship with friends and Christ. They have become so bound by their fears that they again become encompassed in them, even ones that they were freed from, that they have no joy or freedom. They can’t even see past their circumstances to see Jesus waiting with outstretched arms to come to Him. This is where Satan wants them, separated and living for themselves.
The Lord wants to challenge us today. Are we bound up in fear (which leads to all kinds of sin)? The following scriptures tell us what a believers walk looks like. Can we honestly say that describes us? If not, what will each one do about it? “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:4-5) I want that freedom from sin and the power of the Holy Spirit directing every part of my life!
Secondly, the reference to our being “a royal priesthood”, I automatically think of the Levites whom God appointed as the priests. But with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He removed the veil into the Holy of Holies and now each one of us are to be holy as He is holy. (I Peter 1:15-16) Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1) and it is only when we are seated in Him can we make our requests known to God and minister to Him. Yes, minister to the Lord. In our busy lives, do we take the time just to love on God? To praise Him? To worship Him? To sit at His feet and listen?
It is a privilege to be able to go before the Lord and pour out our oil! That may look different for each of us, but it is our calling to minister to the Lord. We must first go before Him and confess our sins and repent. Jesus is our Advocate and will make intercession for us. As we repent and receive forgiveness, now we joyously pour out our oil to bless the Lord.
God is serious about sin in our lives! We need to go back to the Old Testament (just as the writers in the New Testament did) and receive the truth that ALL scripture is inspired by God and is to be obeyed. The priests had to purify themselves before they could minister before God, so must we. Sin cannot stand before a Holy God! Whenever I think of the priests, I am reminded of the sons of Aaron, “But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the LORD.” (Numbers 26:61) Strange fire represents sin. We are not called to create a new gospel, but to be obedient to the laws that God instructed as to obey. They are for our protection. In Leviticus 10:1 the verse also states, “and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.” (Leviticus 10:1) (emphasis mine)
Why has God called us to be His chosen people, a holy priesthood? It really is quite simple and Peter tells us in the last portion of today’s verse, “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”.
I’ve been hearing a warning from the Lord lately that I believe applies to our proclaiming His excellencies. Our testimonies are very important in communicating with others, but not even nearly as important as the testimony of scripture. Notice that nowhere in scripture do Peter or John focus on themselves, it was always what God was doing. The Apostle Paul on the other hand, did talk about his thorn in the flesh, but it was to glorify God because he didn’t focus on the problem, he focused on the One who said His grace was sufficient. “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Paul often referred to himself as “the wretched man that I am”. BUT GOD!
During this time of leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we who have also been crucified with Him, should be the testimony of His resurrection! His power is all sufficient! So the challenge God is placing before us this day is: ARE YOU WILLING TO BE CRUCIFIED OF EARTHLY LUST, AND INSTEAD, LIVE IN THE POWER OF THE RISEN LORD?
Loved ones, are you willing to join me on this journey? No matter how mature we are in Christ, there is always more that we have not attained. What a glorious adventure we have before us! Shall we continue in His strength alone?
Abba Father, this is a strong Word, but I know that nothing is impossible for You. I bow my knees and heart before You today. Show me what You would have me lay down that I have been holding onto. Lead me in Your paths of righteousness for Your name sake. Be glorified through me that others will be drawn to You and enter this newness of life. I love You! Amen.