Monday, April 13, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: He Is Risen
Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
All over the world people are celebrating Easter Monday today. It’s a national holiday in 117 countries of the world. It is traditionally a day set aside to spend relaxed and recreational time with family and friends. In Canada, people eat Easter eggs and enjoy time outdoors. In Germany, they go out into the fields early in the morning and hold Easter egg races. In Guyana, people fly kites, which are made on Holy Saturday. In Leicestershire, England the people of Hallaton hold a bottle-kicking match and Hare Pie Scramble. In the Netherlands, people eat a festive breakfast and go hiking or cycling in the countryside. After yesterday’s incredible celebration of the resurrection of Christ at our church, I can understand the need for a holiday on Monday.
WOW! In all my years of ministry, and in all of my attempts to make Easter special with unique aspects to the service, yesterday was more special than any of them. Why? Because the Holy Spirit of God was there. Not that He never has been before, but this was different. It was not based on an expectation of His presence through our planning and program. We had no Easter cantata, no dramas, no videos. We simply had a crowd of people celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. They did it through music as they joined their voices in worshiping God. They did it through participation in the preaching of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit moved them to actually clap twice during the sermon, punctuated by numerous amen’s throughout.
But the most exciting time of the service for me, and I think for many others, was the baptism service. Three people who had come to Christ for salvation in the last two months stepped into the water and gave testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ to transform their lives. You should have heard their testimonies. The Holy Spirit used them to move the people of the congregation to tears as they celebrated the resurrection of Christ in the lives of these three people. In all my years of ministry, while every baptism has been significant, I think the testimonies I heard yesterday were the most powerful ever. From the mouths of a husband and wife who have been through the worst of tragedies came a message of hope. It was hope not based on anything this world has to offer. It was hope that is out of this world. It was hope that comes from a living and powerful Savior – Jesus Christ.
Today we begin a study of the New Testament book of First Peter. We are going to dive into it verse by verse starting tomorrow. But for today, let me give you a synopsis of the first nine verses that will assist you in continuing the celebration of the resurrection on this Easter Monday. Read the verses first:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In 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 can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Here’s a simple outline for you:
R is for regeneration. In Christ we have been given a new birth
I is for inheritance. We have been born into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, and is being kept in heaven for us.
S is for security. By faith in Jesus Christ we are being shielded by God’s power until the coming of Christ.
E is for endurance. Even though for a time now we have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, our faith is being refined so our lives bring glory to God.
N is for nearness. Though we do not see Him, our faith in Him fills us with an inexpressible joy – the joy of His presence in our lives.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! And because He lives, I too shall live. But it is not me living. It is the resurrected Christ who lives in me! Hallelujah! May we celebrate His resurrection every day, because we live in it’s power every day!