God is for us. God is for us. God is for us! Your parents may have forgotten you, your teachers may have neglected you, your siblings may be ashamed of you; but within reach of your prayers is the maker of the oceans. God! God is for you. Not may be, not has been, not was…but God is! He is for you. Today. At this hour. At this minute. As you read this, He is with you. God is for you!
1 Peter 1:1-9
Peter wrote his first letter to build up readers in their Christian walk. That purpose still applies today.
Our life is to be based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from bondage to sin. His precious blood paid in full the cost of all our transgressions—past, present, and future. Upon acceptance of the Lord’s sacrificial death on our behalf, we experience a second birth and become spiritually alive.
At that moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. His presence is proof of our new position in Christ, as well as a guarantee of our future inheritance and our place in heaven. As God’s children, we’re commanded to live a life of holiness, marked by a deep reverence for the Lord.
Our desire for holy living comes from knowing our Father’s character, understanding what it cost for us to be saved, and recognizing we will face a future judgment. Though we won’t face condemnation, we will one day stand before our Lord so He can assess our work and determine our heavenly rewards. He will examine our inner feelings as well as our outward behavior. Acts of obedience will be rewarded; times of rebellion will not. In other words, our attitudes and choices really do matter, both in this life and in the future.
Take time regularly to ponder these truths. Use them to increase your desire to follow God, to make changes in your conduct, and to be His faithful, obedient servant.
Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been.
The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness, the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tender-hearted.” It does not say, “If you can…” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you…” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged…” It says, “Be tender-hearted.”
This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible for me. It frees me from mechanistic views that make my background my destiny.
And God’s commands always come with freeing, life-changing truth to believe.
So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)
Even though the people of Israel saw the waters of the Red Sea divide and they walked over on dry ground, the moment they got thirsty, their hearts were hard against God and they did not trust him to take care of them. They cried out against him and said that life in Egypt was better.
That is what this verse is written to prevent. O how many professing Christians make a start with God. They hear that their sins can be forgiven and that they can escape hell and go to heaven. And they say: “What have I got to lose? I’ll believe.”
But then in a week or a month or a year or ten years, the test comes — a season of no water in the wilderness. A weariness with manna, and subtly a growing craving for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt, as Numbers 11:5–6 says, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
This is a terrifying condition to be in — to find yourself no longer interested in Christ and his Word and prayer and worship and missions and living for the glory of God. And to find all fleeting pleasures of this world more attractive than the things of the Spirit.
If that is your situation, I plead with you to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in this text. Give heed to the Word of God. Do not harden your heart. Wake up to the deceitfulness of sin. Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our great confession, and hold fast to your confidence and hope in him.
And if you have never even made a start with God, then put your hope in him. Turn from sin and from self-reliance and put your confidence in a great Savior. These things are written that you might believe and endure, and have life everlasting.
Zaccheus worked as a chief tax collector for the Roman government. His profession caused him to be despised by his fellow Jews. When Jesus sought him out and asked to visit his home, the crowd was dismayed—the Lord was associating with someone whose conduct made him a sinner in their eyes. The Savior responded, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
The word lost is a biblical term used to describe the spiritual situation of everyone who has yet to receive Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. In this state, a person is separated from God—there is physical life but no spiritual connection to the heavenly Father. Lost doesn’t have to do with physical location; it speaks instead of spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1), when the mind is blind to the truth of God.
Man’s sinfulness was established through the disobedient action of the first human being—Adam. When he supported Eve’s plan and disobeyed God, his nature became one of rebellion, and all generations from then on have inherited his sinful flesh tendencies. Everyone is born into this world with a nature bent away from God (Rom. 5:12).
Zaccheus was a sinner because of his lost condition, not because of his greedy profession. Good behavior doesn’t make us a Christian, nor does bad conduct disqualify us. The tax collector received salvation through faith in Jesus. By trusting in Christ as Savior, we, like Zaccheus, are no longer lost; we’re made spiritually alive. Hallelujah!
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)
We all know people that this has happened to. There is no urgency. No vigilance. No focused listening or considering or fixing of their eyes on Jesus. And the result has not been a standing still, but a drifting away.
That is the point here: there is no standing still. The life of this world is not a lake. It is a river. And it is flowing downward to destruction. If you do not listen earnestly to Jesus and consider him daily and fix your eyes on him hourly, then you will not stand still, you will go backward. You will float by.
Drifting is a deadly thing in the Christian life. And the remedy to it, according to Hebrews 2:1, is, “Pay close attention to what you have heard.” That is, consider what God is saying in his Son Jesus. Fix your eyes on what God is saying and doing in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
This is not a hard stroke to learn so that we can swim against the stream of sin and indifference. The only thing that keeps us from swimming like this is our sinful desire to float with other interests.
But let us not complain that God has given us a hard job. Listen, consider, fix the eyes — this is not what you would call a hard job description. It is not a job description. It is a solemn invitation to be satisfied in Jesus so that we do not get lured downstream by deceitful desires.
If you are drifting today, one of the signs of hope that you are born again is that you feel pricked for this, and there is a rising desire in your heart to turn your eyes on Jesus and consider him and listen to him in the days and months and years to come.
Where do you stand with the Lord? Are you in a right relationship with Him or have your own desires and plans taken over? Feeling guilty about this is normal as I believe it’s God’s way of knocking on your heart and asking you to take a look at yourself.
God doesn’t want you to feel guilty about the sins you’ve committed in the past. He doesn’t want you to feel shame either. Shame and constant reminders of your troubled past are the devil’s tools to bring you down. The devil wants you to reach such a low point in your feelings about yourself that you give up and continue to give in to your sinful desires.
Jesus Christ came into this world for one reason. He came to save you from your sins and all of the hurtful baggage that comes along with it. Jesus suffered but He had a major resource to turn to. God the Father supplied Him with all that He needed to help us in our times of need.
Continuing to harbor guilt and shame about past sins in essence says that you are hanging on to the problem instead of releasing it to God and receiving forgiveness. God doesn’t want you to be unhappy and in a constant state of shame. He wants the very best for you in every aspect of your life.
God tells His people in Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
God is making a path for you away from your past into newness of life. Isn’t that great? So, where do you stand with the Lord today?