1 Peter 1:17-22
And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites when he judges. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as foreigners here on earth. For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God. Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters* because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.
I have just had a truly amazing experience that I simply had to share with you. On Sunday, my Pastor preached a message that has proven to be life altering for me. He spoke about Saul in the book of I Samuel, and how he was chosen by Samuel to be the first King of Israel. However, we go on to learn that he was chosen largely because of his physical size and good looks. God gave Saul a number of jobs to do, and in the beginning, Saul was successful. Over time, however, he rejected God by relying on his own abilities rather than on God’s power and promises. In the end, Saul’s rejection of God resulted in God’s rejection of Saul and Saul’s ultimate failure. God had called Saul to simply be faithful and obedient to God and trust God to fulfill His word, not to try to do it all with his own brains and muscle. Saul trusted his own abilities over God’s. The battle is not ours.
As I drove home, I thought about some of the doubts I had struggled with in terms of my own ability to be a good youth leader. A few years ago, I had stood in church praising God and seeking His will in my life when He spoke to me. He told me to teach His children to fear Him and to love Him. I knew then that my life of service would be in the form of teaching the young people in our church. I was (and am still) profoundly honored. Yet as I prepare for my youth group each week and pray and study the lessons I will teach, I am always bothered by a small voice nagging me, telling me that I am not good enough because I am not a ‘pastor’. True, I never attended Bible College, so each week I would worry and study and try to memorize in the attempt to give my best to God and my youth. But just as Saul had been appointed to a position by God and then tried to do it with his own strengths, so was I. That path will lead to failure. The story of Saul showed me that God will make up for my lacking. He doesn’t need me to be the most learned scholar in the world, nor do I need to be a world class public speaker. I simply need to be faithful and obedient to what God had called me to do. The battle is not mine.
Next step: I prayed, “God, what do you want me to do to prepare? What is the next step?” I felt led to read the Bible. (I had really hoped He wouldn’t ask me to do that. Sometimes, I find the Bible a little overwhelming and confusing.) But where do I start? How do I know if I am understanding it properly without years of Theology? So many questions. Again and again, doubting my ability.
A spiritual hush.
Just be obedient. Have faith in Me.
So, I picked up my bible.
Where do I begin?
I began at the beginning. As I read my mind kept asking me, “Are you sure this is where God wants you to read? Why start at I Peter? Why not start at the beginning?” I kept reading. I read all of Chapter 1, and moved on to the reading of the notes on the bottom of the page. That is when I saw it. My notes for 1:17 began “Reverent Fear” and went on to discuss its meaning. Further on my notes for 1:22 began “Sincere Love” and continued to talk about its meaning. There it was in black and white. All those years ago I was told to teach His children two things, to fear and to love Him. I put my Bible down and wept. I felt like God was giving me a pat on the back telling me I’d finally figured it out. This isn’t my job I am doing, it is His. I am simply meant to be obedient and faithful to Him. If I do those things, God’s Will will be done. The battle is not mine, the job is not mine, the glory is not mine, it is His. Our job is not to figure it out and make it work. If we are faithful and obedient the battle will be won by God’s power and for His glory. Hallelujah!
Praise you Father God for Your faithfulness to us. Thank you that never expect more from us than we are able to provide. Thank you for Your word which is both Holy and trustworthy. You never fail to give help to those who ask for it and your love in unfailing. You do not grow tired of hearing from us and you will never leave of forsake us. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Amen.