Note from Jesus
Years before Peter wrote his short letter known as 1 Peter to My disciples, he was repeatedly persecuted. He regularly encountered strong opposition from the Sanhedrin, the same Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem that had called for My death. On one of those occasions when the Sanhedrin had threatened Peter and My other apostles, they left rejoicing. Luke described it this way:
As they left the council, they weren’t discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His [My] name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King.
Years later, Peter wrote to believers in Asia Minor as they faced the same kind of treatment he had endured. He reminded them to follow the example he set years earlier:
[I]f you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace… Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.
In addition to rejoicing, Peter encouraged these believers facing their own “trial by fire” to do things that would help them in their time of persecution. He called on them to do the following:
- Stay focused on what is eternally important.
- Love each other faithfully.
- Share hospitality.
- Use their gifts, whether they were speaking or serving gifts. These gifts enabled them to bless each other and honor the Father.
- Consider themselves blessed as they rejoiced in suffering for My name, being fully assured that they would share in My coming glory with Me.
- Remember the Holy Spirit rested upon and lived within them, so they were not alone even in times of suffering.
- Make sure their suffering was for doing what was right and not what was wrong.
- Praise God that they wore My name, Jesus, the Anointed One.
- Be humble before the Father, knowing that He would lift them up at the right time.
- Share their burdens and cares with the Father because He loved them, cared for them, and longed to help shoulder their hardships.
- Be disciplined and on guard because the evil one was roaming like a hungry lion looking to devour people.
- Don’t fear the devil, but resist him using their strong faith knowing that they were not alone in their suffering.
- Remember that the same Father Who will share His eternal presence with them in glory will also restore, support, strengthen, and establish them in their lives as they await participating in that glorious presence.
This list is especially important for all who are facing suffering, trial, and persecution. Not only is it practical, but it is also encouraging. Peter wanted My disciples facing their own “trial by fire” to have a readily available set of strategies to remain faithful. Despite the obvious and painful difficulties they faced, he wanted these disciples to remember that victory and glory awaited them.
Near the beginning and the end of his letter, Peter rejoiced because of My victory over sin, death, and hell. He assured his readers that all who sincerely believe in Me will share in My glory. Near the beginning, he said:
Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.
(1 Peter 1:8-9)
You can find his rejoicing near the end of his letter toward the end of the second set of verses below.
Verses to Live
The following two sets of verses come from chapter 4 and chapter 5 in 1 Peter. The first part of chapter 5 has two exhortations that are related to leadership but are not included here. In those verses, Peter first makes an impassioned call for elders to serve as shepherds of My flock: they are not bosses that lord it over those they lead but are to be loving shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4). Second, he calls for the younger men to follow the elders’ leadership and to be humble (1 Peter 5:5).
Strong leadership is essential always but especially when My people are facing persecution. These words and guidelines today are extraordinarily valuable to help My people know what to do when faced with persecution. I want you to incorporate them into your life as My disciple.
We are coming to the end of all things, so be serious and keep your wits about you in order to pray more forcefully. Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties. If you’re called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth; if you’re called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you. In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus the Anointed, to Whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen.
Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Anointed’s sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed. If anyone condemns you for following Jesus as the Anointed One, consider yourself blessed. The glorious Spirit of God rests on you. But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things. But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.
(1 Peter 4:7-16)
So bow down under God’s strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up. Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.
Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone. Resist him and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace Who has called you to His everlasting presence through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:6-11)
Response in Prayer
Father, two things tug at my heart today after reading these verses. First, I think of those who are facing incredible persecution today for the sake of Your name. Give them strength and faithfulness. Please intervene in our world and bring them relief and rescue. Second, dear Father, give me strength so that my faith can stand in the face of challenge, ridicule, oppression, and persecution. I want to be faithful no matter what happens. Thank You for someone like Peter, who faced multiple persecutions. His words mean all the more to me because I know he did not share them lightly. I know he wrote inspired by the Holy Spirit as well as having endured great personal hardships. Thank You for such a heritage of faith and such straightforward teaching. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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