When we go Through Hard Times   

Elkanah Cheboi

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…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isa. 43:1-3). 

We live in a world full of evil, evil persons, demons and Satan. That’s enough to bring us trouble/hard times. And so the question is not “if” we will go through hard times but “when”; for hard times will certainly come. The dark moment could be financial, loss of a job, relationship, health, family, political instability, e.t.c.

Sometimes dark moments in our lives can cause us to question God’s power, goodness/love, understanding, and presence. But we need the right responses/attitudes to be able to discern purpose of God’s working through our…

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Making a Difference in an Ungodly Generation

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As we live in the world we are reminded that this is not our home. We are children of light in a dark world (Eph. 5:8).

What does the Bible teach us concerning the world?

  • It is fallen and with fallen people; far from God; and full of evil.
  • It has values/ways of this world are opposed to the kingdom values.
  • We are in this world but not of this world (Jn. 17:14-16).
  • Satan is the prince of this the rule of this world (Jn. 12:31; Eph. 2:2)
  • Its structures are against godly values
  • The world is passing away
  • It not the ideal place…
  • The truth is, we can influence the world or still it can influence us….

In this world, people have become:

  • Disobedient; drifting from truth
  • Lovers of themselves and pleasure, and not lovers of God
  • Immoral- degeneration of morality; empty
  • Biblically illiterate
  • Materialistic- pursuing money as the ultimate goal
  • Selfish and do not think of others or God

As a matter of fact, it is very easy to live, talk, and think according to the patterns of the world or according to the ways of the people who are of the world are; especially if we often interact with them more than God’s Word.

So how can we live in such a world as and remain Christ followers? In other words, how can we shine our light in a dark world? How can we live godly lives in the present evil age?

Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20 and Titus 2:1–14, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be Careful How You Live (v.15)

By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger.

Watchful of our belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people.

Being cautious that the waters we are swimming have crocodiles, the path we are walking have mines and thorns.

Be careful not to lean of your own understanding- Prov. 3:5

Be careful if we think we are firmly standing, 1 Cor. 10:12.

Once again, be careful not to fall into the deception of the enemy…

Living not as unwise but as wise– Bible exhorts us to be wise. Wisdom can be attained through asking (Jas. 1:5); through read and applying God’s word (2 Tim 3:14,15).

The word of God is able to guide you, build you up, make you wise, make you grow, cleanse you and shape your character and attitudes. At its base, wisdom is the fear of God (Prov. 9:10).

Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Rom 16:19).

Be watchful and wise about the company you keep (2 Cor 6:17).

  • Making the Most of Every Opportunity (V.16)

Time and chance happens to all (Eccl 9:11)

Opportunities are seized. Grab every opportunity to grow, know Christ.

Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short (Ps. 90:12); and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

Be like the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32).

  • Understand the Lord’s Will (V.17)

God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand and APPLY that purpose for our OWN lives.

The will of God is revealed in His Word. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast.

It is the will of God that you submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is the will of God that you should be committed in the church. We seek to know and accomplish what pleases Him.

It has never been easy thing to be a true Christian in any generation…

What does God want you to be if you live to be 80?

  • Be Filled With the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell, control, and transform you. “Drunk” with the Spirit.

The Spirit of God enables us to receive strength, overcome evil forces of the enemy (Ep 6:10-18;) overcome sin (Rom 8:13). Overcome flesh (Gal. 5:16, overcome the word (1 Jn. 5:4).

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fruit of the spirit will be manifest.

  • Be Joyful and be Thankful (V.19-20)

One of the characteristic of people of the world is that they are both ungrateful and have no true joy.

Encourage one another; speaking to each other, enjoying the fellowship of one another and praising God.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors. A grateful and joyful heart makes a lot of difference.

 

Blessings of Justification

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In Romans 5:1-11 Paul explains the blessings that comes through justification by faith. Faith in Christ brings a believer some benefits of salvation

Since we have been justified, we have:

  1. Peace (v. 1-2a)- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Greek variant reading of some credible manuscripts have the subjunctive form of the indicative verb ἔχομεν; which can be rendered “let us have peace” (subjunctive). But the context supports ‘we have peace’.

 Formerly, believers were enemies with God because of sin and rebellion (Rom. 5:10, 8:7). Perhaps being an enemy with men can be treated as a nonissue; but being an enemy of God, the might Warrior, is a big problem. Previously, hostility and alienation characterized this relationship.

But now, because of the reconciling work of Christ on the cross,believers have peace with God. We have peace with God because our sins have been forgiven and our guilt removed. We’re no longer objects of God’s wrath that is to be revealed upon the ungodly. We are sons of God, restored and redeemed.

The Greek word for peace eirene is shallow in meaning (it expresses absence/cessation of war) but the Hebrew concept of shalom is more profound in meaning, “well-being including social harmony, communal well-doing. God’s peace brings to our hearts some inner sense of security and serenity (Isa. 32:17-8).

Do you have this peace? If not what has robbed your precious peace with God? Remember, Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14, 15, 17), and He gives peace to his loved ones (Num. 6:26) … ask him….

Peace is God’s gift even amidst cares and sorrows, the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7). People who search for peace never find it until they find fulfillment in God.  For those who posses it, it is our duty to keep having peace with God.

Importantly, having peace with God also brings with it the access into grace (v.2a)- Through Jesus we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. We have received favor and acceptance. Believers experience the richness of his grace; the abounding grace, that is new every morning.

2. Joy (v.2b)- We rejoice (or boast) in the hope of glory of God (v.2b.). A Greek variant also has “let us rejoice” (indicative and subjunctive). He is the “hope of glory.”

The glory of God is the end for which he created mankind. We rejoice that our sins have been forgiven. We rejoice even when the circumstances around us does not allow. Our God-given inner joy does not depend on happenings. This joy delights in the fact that God is at work in and through us. Outwardly, things may not look good, but we should rejoice in Christ always. Because we know that something good will eventually come out. Let not concerns of our lives rob us the God-given joy.

3. Hope (3a-5a)– We rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance-character-hope (a hope that does not disappoint/put one to shame). Paul knows that suffering is something we must deal with in life. Suffering is inevitable because we are in an evil world, with evil people, Satan, and with evil nature. This is enough to cause us trouble.

Jesus warned, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). The apostles knew, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In suffering, we are supposed to be joyful, hopeful, and determined. Suffering refines or strengthens our faith; it shapes our character to produce hope. God uses suffering to build our lives, he can turn evil intended against us for our own good. Suffering is not our destination but a temporary valley we go through.  So, the testing of your faith should not destroy your zeal for the Lord rather strengthen it.

Working or studying in AIU may be an opportunity to serve/make a living or further intellectual pursuits respectively. But remember that it is also an opportunity for God to refine your faith and test its genuineness. How do we respond to these moments? God is achieving in us something of greater worth…our character is developed, and our hope grounded more.

Is hope alive in you today? In a hopeless world it is easy to maintain hope. There is hope even when hope is lost because God promises to give us hope (Jer. 29:11).

4. Love (5b-11)– God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

God showed his love to us “at just the right time”- at the fullness of time. This love was lavished upon us when we were weak/powerless, ungodly, and enemies. This love was demonstrated in the death of Christ for sinners; and in adopting us to be sons in his family. (see also Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; 1 Jn. 4:16). This is a love that embraces unconditionally (1 Cor. 13).

He loved us so that we can proclaim this love to others.

Finally, God’s salvation has always been purely through justification by faith. This is the same salvation message to all humanity. The new status of believers as justified not only brings with it some blessings but also some implication of living a godly life in anticipation of God’s final verdict and deliverance from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. #Baraka

Successful Living

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How can we live meaningful lives in a world that is diametrically opposed to the kingdom values we uphold? Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be careful how you live (v.15)– By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger. Watch your belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people. If you don’t have wisdom ask the wise, read God’s word, and ask God to give you wisdom. Be wise to avoid being carried by the winds.
  • Making the most of every opportunity (V.16)– Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short; and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

  • Understand the Lord’s will (V.17)– God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand that purpose for our OWN lives. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast. Perpetually, seek to know what pleases God.
  • Be filled with the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell and transform you.
  • Be joyful and be thankful (V.19-20)– Encourage one another. Speaking to each other and praising God with music.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors.

Jesus Christ our Sufficient Sacrifice

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God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1—2 was distorted by the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The entrance of sin brought about death and curses to human history.

Sin is not only a reality we struggle with but also an affront to a righteous God. Sin is serious. Therefore it has to be dealt with with the seriousness it deserves.

In the OT God in His wisdom and grace God chose to make a temporary way sin can be atoned as the coming of Christ is awaited. A substitutionary animal sacrifices was allowed for remission of sins. For sin to be atone for, there must be a shedding of blood (lose of life).

And so, the idea of animal sacrifices and levitical priesthood runs throughout the OT as a shadow of the NT reality in Christ.

Significantly, in the OT, there was a specific national day (the day of atonement) in which sins were atoned for. This day highlights seriousness of sin and God’s hatred for sin and demands for righteousness.

Understanding the Day of atonement, helps us understand better the sacrifice of Jesus.

Key Highlights of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16

  • Apart from having the other daily sacrifices, the annual day of atonement was a day of fast; a day God cleansed all the sins of his people; and the only day the high priest entered the Holy of Holies/the Most Holy Palace.
  • The high priest prepared himself to appear before God in a worthy manner.
  • A bull and two goats were required for the sacrifice. One goat was for the for the Lord (sin offering) and another for the scapegoat.
  • Aaron was to slaughter the bull for his personal sin offering and his household.
  • The high priest slaughtered the goat for sin offering for the people and took its blood behind the curtain and sprinkled on the atonement cover and in front of it. This showed that Israel’s sin could only be atoned for by a substitutionary death V15.
  • Concerning the scapegoat- The high priest was to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins- and put them on the goat’s head. This goat was then released to the desert. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place. (According to Jewish tradition the goat was subsequently thrown over a cliff to prevent it from returning).

But there was a problem… clearly the animal sacrifices were insufficient in the following ways:

  • The Day of atonement and sacrifices were repeated endlessly year by year. No one sacrifice was enough or final. The sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
  • It never made perfect the worshippers. The worshippers still felt guilty for their sins.
  • The day of Atonement was only a “shadow” of a reality that was to come through Jesus (Heb. 5:1-14).

 Sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 5, 9)

  • Like the sacrificed animal, he shed his blood for forgiveness of our sins
  • Jesus as a scapegoat was sent outside the camp (Jerusalem) and took the sins/guilt of his people- (Heb. 13:2; 1Jn 3:5).
  • Jesus was made sin for our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, (Jn. 1:29).
  • Jesus was made curse (Gal. 3:23).
  • His sacrifice is sufficient; perfect, and superior sacrifice- He entered a heavenly sanctuary, by his own blood (never needed to make atonement for himself as a high priest). He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. His sacrifice was once for all and he can make us holy.

The story of the adulterous woman in John 8:2-12 illustrates the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. Her life was spared because they brought her to Jesus the ultimate and superior sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus offers hope. Every hopeless sinner, like this woman, can find hope only in Jesus!  Again, why did God allow her to live? This story offers us profound lessons:

Jesus did not allow her to be put to death simply because in Him there is:

  1. Life- The sacrifice of Jesus offers humanity a free gift of life.

For example, in this story (John 8:2-12), the adulterous woman (we don’t have her real name) had already received her death sentence from her accusers: people and the religious leaders. Perhaps they pondered, “why should she live?” but Jesus perspective was, “why should she die?”

Jesus had come for the very purpose to seek and save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mk 10:45. Jesus also declares, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He is the fountain of life and any sinner who turns to him in faith is never turned away but given eternal life.

He gives life and breathes life to your lifeless situations….

  1. Love- The story of the cross of Jesus is the story of unconditional love. While we were still sinners Christ dies for us (Rom. 5:8). He has loved us with an everlasting love. In his love he adopted us into his family as sons.

The woman in this story, like many in our world today, suffered rejection and hate. She was brought early in the morning and before everyone to shame her before stoning her. But Jesus does the unexpected. He accepts her. This does not mean that he affirmed her sin but in accepting her to come to him he clearly displayed God’s unconditional love. We see this love clearer when we look at the cross. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). A very familiar verse summarizes it all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (Jn. 3:16).

This is a powerful love! What is it that can separate us from the love of Christ?

It is because of love Jesus laid down his life for us (Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 3:16).

  1. Forgiveness– In Christ, there is forgiveness of sins. Remember, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 10:17).

In Christ, we are forgiven- the past, present and future. The death of Jesus as a substitute brought us forgiveness by taking our penalty upon himself.

All we know about the woman in this story is that she was an adulterer. She was a sinner. Like any other sinner, she deserved death. The people and the religious leaders must have justified themselves from Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22. But Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29) took her sin upon himself!

Sadly, we sometimes doubt the forgiveness we have received! Remember, Doubts do not begin from God but from the devil, for he is the accuser of the brothers (Rev. 12:10). Satan plants doubts to paralyze us and the ministry God has put in us.

When Jesus forgives you, you also need to forgive yourself. He is the perfect sacrifice and so you should no longer be crippled by doubt, fear, and guilt conscience.

If you have put your faith in God count your transaction done in Christ! Tetelestai (Jn. 19:30). When God has forgiven who can reverse? Jesus our sacrifice is sufficient.

When Jesus forgives he does it completely: he removes them as far as east is from the west Ps103:12; he casts them behind his back Isa 38:17; he casts then into the depths of the sea Mic 7:19; he forgives all our trespasses Col 2:13; and he remembers them no more Heb 10:17. Amazing! He never leaves the woman the same point he found her, he forgives her and gives her a new beginning. Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, Matt 9:12. There is no remission of sins apart from the shedding of blood.

Since Jesus forgives, we should not live under the guilt of sin but instead confess our sins in order to be forgiven.

  1. Justification– In Jesus there is declaration of righteousness. In Christ, sinners are justified, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” Heb 5:10. This righteousness is not based on works but purely on the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, Heb 5:10. It is received by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The woman we read about had no righteousness of her own but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed on her. This is precisely what grace is (undeserved favor).

The ultimate Judge took away her guilt and declared her righteous. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8:1-2. We also know that, God did not send his Son to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (Jn. 3:17).  Who else can condemn those who the Righteous Judge of all has declared as righteous?

Justification also leads to a process of being made holy (sanctification)…

  1. Freedom– It is only in Jesus that sinners are set free. In this case it freedom to not sin again.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had a water-tight case against this specific woman until they brought it to Jesus who dismantled it. It is worth noting that Jesus eventually lets her go by telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” v11. The newfound freedom is a freedom not to further indulge sin but to serve the living Savior who had freed her (the nation of Israel in Egypt was also freed so as to serve Yahweh.

In the words of apostle Paul she was told, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your boy to him as instruments of righteousness” Rom 6:11-13.

  1. Reconciliation- Sin separates us from a holy God. In no other way is the wall of hostility between us and God bridged apart from the only one Mediator between men and God- Jesus Christ. It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are once again reconciled to God (Rom. 5:11,12; 2 Cor. 5:18,19).

Because of the reconciliation we can come to God’s presence with confidence (Heb. 10:19, Col 1:19). We come before God not because we are worthy but because we are reconciled through the ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. We confidently bring our needs to Him knowing that he hears us and answers us.

The adulterous woman had broken the law of God, in fact caught in the act, and by status an enemy of God, but Jesus actions toward her demonstrates that God has made a way that sinners can find hope. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, Col 1:22.

  1. Redemption and deliverance– The penalty for sin is death and Jesus’ audience, together with the adulterous woman, must have understood this fact from the Law of Moses. But when they presented her to Jesus, they unknowingly presented her to the One who ultimately pays the penalty of sin once and for all.

Therefore, the adulterous woman, and any other sinner like you and me, can live because of the redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. The biblical authors testified, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14). She, like any other sinner who comes to Jesus, was delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

Finally… contrast the human and angel fall and reflect on the grace and unique love that God has extended to mankind. Angels fell but no plan was given for their salvation; in fact,  hell was prepared for them. But mankind fell but God gave his very son as a sacrifice so that those who BELIEVE will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ- the ONLY Precious Name

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The book of Acts chronicles several miraculous acts that were performed by the apostles in THE NAME OF JESUS.

In Luke’s account, “the name of Jesus” carries a lot of significance as he narrates the working of the Holy Spirit through the apostles as the gospel was proclaimed to the uttermost parts of the world.

It is important for us today to comprehend the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. For by knowing Jesus, we know the Father; “now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:4).

In Acts 2:37—4:13, Jesus is presented as: the Jesus the author of life; the promised messiah; the descendant of Abraham; the prophesied One. But more so, the name of Jesus Christ is given a lot of significance.

 In this this context, the NAME OF JESUS is the ONLY Name that:

  1. Men are forgiven of their sins– “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)

It is on the account of this name that sins of men can be forgiven, once and for all. As God’s anointed one, Christ did not sin and so able to forgive sins. He is the High Priest who needed no sacrifice for his own sins because he was sinless.

In this name, those who come to him in faith and repentant hearts are forgiven and their sins remembered no more.

Even the vilest sinner can be forgiven by calling on this name… On the account of this name the adulterous woman was forgiven… Also, by calling on this powerful name, tax collectors, sorcerers and murderous were forgiven and given a new name and identity…

  1. Has power to heal– “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6,16;4:10).

The apostles healed the man crippled from birth, by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that is able to deliver humanity from weaknesses, diseases and infirmities.

In this name is both physical and spiritual healing.

Medical practitioners treat but God heals.

Yahweh revealed himself as Healer- “I am the Lord who heals you” (Ex. 15:26).

Call upon this name today for him to heal your body, soul, relationships, wounds…

  1. The dead are resurrected- (Acts 4:2)-

Through the name of Jesus Christ, the dead resurrect.

The dead hear his voice; the death Lazarus responded to Jesus’ call (Jn. 1:43). Believers will also resurrect in the future because the same Spirit who lives in them is the same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead.

Through this name there’s life. Jesus gives LIFE. Eternal life.

By implication, he can breathe life to your lifeless situation…

  1. Men can be saved- “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that men can be saved.

Are there other ways men can be saved apart from Christ?

Scriptures clearly affirm that there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved (Jn. 3:16-18, 14:3; Rom. 10:13-15). There is ONLY ONE way to the Father- Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.

It is a hard truth and there is no other way around this exclusive view; there is no salvation without accepting and believing in Christ, the author of life, as the one who died for our sins and rose again (Acts 3:15).

Other religions and philosophies that claim to have truth are only false and empty.

Although we have established the fact that Jesus saves, we should also underscore the fact that one has to respond to Him in faith. And this is by calling on this name for salvation.

The Scriptures are clear, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Since there is only one Savior, the church should move with urgency in spreading the message of the gospel to the world lost in sin.

  1. Should be proclaimed(Acts 4:17-18) They taught and spoke in his name. for people to come to salvation in thousands. Their numbers were added increasingly.

This is the name that the apostles testified. It is the name they propagated. They never went about creating brands for themselves, but they proclaimed God’s kingdom and exalted Christ in their preaching, teaching, doctrine and conduct.

Are our ministries today built around our own names or on the name of Jesus…

Are the organizations founded upon this name still actively proclaim this name?…

Are our teaching or preaching ministries Christo-centric?

  1. It is the name through which miraculous signs and wonders can be performed- (Acts 4:30)

It is through this name that demons were cast (Acts 16:18); for it is the name that even demons submit to (Mk. 16:17; Lk. 10:17)

By implication, we have power and victory over the devil and demons through the name of Jesus.

  1. We should prayJesus told his disciples to ask anything in his name (Jn. 14:13-14).

It is through the name of Jesus that we should present our requests known to the Father.

Our prayers are only answered by the Father in Jesus name (Jn. 16:23-24).

This is not a magical formula but a powerful name in which we plead to God. He is our advocate, high priest, and intercessor in heaven.

Therefore, we should not pray through angels but through Christ alone.

It is through this name that through prayer, the lowly are lifted up and the proud are humbled. It is through this name that some rise and some fall…

  1. In his name we serve

Believers in Christ have opportunity to serve God in whatever profession by doing whatever they do in Christ’s name.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

Read Biblical principles on work

Finally…

The name Jesus Christ is a precious name: By this name the vilest sinners are delivered, by this name addict can be made sober; and the lost get found.

At the mention of this name demons flee, through this name kingdoms have been built and armies have been destroyed. At this name impossibilities turn into possibilities. By this name lives are transformed.

This name is a safe refuge: it is a strong tower that the righteous run into and they are safe (Prov. 18:10).

This is the name that someday every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11)

THE NAME OF JESUS, THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME

Read also Satan’s thesis statement, Jesus’ offer

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Living in Anticipation of the Lord’s Return

Elkanah Cheboi

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The doctrine of eschatology (end times) is broadly taught in the Bible. Central to this teaching is the return of Jesus Christ for his church. Believers are not ignorant of the things that will happen in the future because the Bible talks of signs, promises, and warnings concerning the return of Jesus Christ. Through the Bible, God’s eternal plan into the future has been revealed. Jesus not only gave us the promise to return but he also gave us the signs that will precede his return and the warnings that we should beware of.

Promises:

  • Jesus promised to come back soon (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 22:20).
  • He went to prepare a place for believers (Jn. 14:3). A place where evil and suffering will be no more. A city where there shall be no more Satan, death, tears, pain, and imperfections; for the former order of…

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Justification by Faith and its Blessings -Romans 4-5

 

justification-by-faith-cross-s

The example of the life and ministry of apostle Paul challenges us greatly on becoming zealous for the Lord. Before his encounter with Christ, he was a fierce persecutor of the church; a zealot who was determined to destroy any perceived aggression against Judaism, the faith of his ancestors. But the Damascus road experience radically changed his life and purpose once and for all. Significantly, his conversion made him realize that he was blind, ignorant, and wrong. He came into terms with the fact that his zeal was devoid of knowledge and truth.

As was the case, he had been fighting truth all along; but in the words of St. Augustine, he realized that truth is not an abstract concept but a Person. In the past Paul was zealous to bring death to those who threatened the integrity of the Judaism. But God delivered him from that kind of a zeal and gave him a new zeal of bringing life to those who are living in sin. Upon conversion, Paul became even exceedingly zealous for the Lord and for the gospel truth. He endeavored to preach the gospel where it has not been preached. He became passionate about the things that God is passionate about, like bringing salvation to all men. He became passionate about knowing the truth and letting others know and experience freedom in Jesus.

In chapter 1-3 of Romans Paul highlights the depraved human condition and God’s initiative in bringing about salvation. The pagan Gentiles, moralists, self-confident Jewish people and all humanity is guilty and stands condemned before God, the righteous Judge. He admits, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

BUT NOW, he says “a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known… this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:21-22).

In chapter 4 and 5, Paul explains justification by faith as the form of righteousness that God has revealed apart from the law. Justification is a forensic term that means to be “declared righteous.” Were people saved in the OT based on keeping the law or through sacrifices they offered? Paul, in chapter 4, establishes the fact that that justification has all along been purely by faith. God has not changed the way he saves! He uses Abraham and David to correct/illustrate justification by faith in the past.

I. Justification by faith –How Abraham was saved?

A. Abraham was not justified by works (4:1-8)- Otherwise justification by works would have made him boast; but “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” A quote from Genesis 15: 6. David commends this righteousness that is apart from the law.

B. Abraham was not justified by rites or rituals (4:9-12)– His justification occurred about 13yrs before circumcision. So, the circumcision was only a seal of Abraham being declared righteous because of his faith.

C. Abraham was not justified by law (4:13-17)- His justification preceded the law by about four centuries.

D. Abraham was justified by Faith (18-22)– “Against all hope” Abraham believed. He exercised faith on God’s promises even when situation looked unpromising. He was a pagan/Gentile who believed in God (others: Rahab, Ruth, …) and was justified by faith. By implication, Jews and Gentiles are all spiritual children of Abraham. There is one salvation for all humanity- Jews and Gentiles.

Those who come to Christ by faith, even today, are declared righteous. Justification is not earned but is a gift from God. Believing in God today can also change your life… The Lord never turn away a repentant sinner.

Chapter 5 highlights the benefits/blessings of our status as justified persons in the sight of God. Being declared righteous is an incredible blessing that we enjoy here and now.

II. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11) –Since we have been justified,we have:

  1. Peace (v1-2a)- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Greek variant reading of some credible manuscripts have the subjunctive form of the indicative verb ἔχομεν; which can be rendered “let us have peace” (subjunctive). But the context supports ‘we have peace’.

 Formerly, believers were enemies with God because of sin and rebellion (Rom. 5:10, 8:7). Perhaps being an enemy with men can be treated as a nonissue; but being an enemy of God, the might Warrior, is a big problem. Previously, hostility and alienation characterized this relationship.

But now, because of the reconciling work of Christ on the cross, believers have peace with God. We have peace with God because our sins have been forgiven and our guilt removed. We’re no longer objects of God’s wrath that is to be revealed upon the ungodly. We are sons of God, restored and redeemed.

The Greek word for peace eirene is shallow in meaning (it expresses absence/cessation of war) but the Hebrew concept of shalom is more profound in meaning, “well-being including social harmony, communal well-doing. God’s peace brings to our hearts some inner sense of security and serenity (Isa. 32:17-8).

Do you have this peace? If not what has robbed your precious peace with God? Remember, Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14, 15, 17), and He gives peace to his loved ones (Num. 6:26) … ask him….

Peace is God’s gift even amidst cares and sorrows, the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7). People who search for peace never find it until they find fulfillment in God.  For those who posses it, it is our duty to keep having peace with God.

Importantly, having peace with God also brings with it the access into grace (v.2a)- Through Jesus we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. We have received favor and acceptance. Believers experience the richness of his grace; the abounding grace, that is new every morning.

2. Joy (v.2b)- We rejoice (or boast) in the hope of glory of God (v.2b.). A Greek variant also has “let us rejoice” (indicative and subjunctive). He is the “hope of glory.”

The glory of God is the end for which he created mankind. We rejoice that our sins have been forgiven. We rejoice even when the circumstances around us does not allow. Our God-given inner joy does not depend on happenings. This joy delights in the fact that God is at work in and through us. Outwardly, things may not look good, but we should rejoice in Christ always. Because we know that something good will eventually come out. Let not concerns of our lives rob us the God-given joy.

3. Hope (3a-5a)– We rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance-character-hope (a hope that does not disappoint/put one to shame). Paul knows that suffering is something we must deal with in life. Suffering is inevitable because we are in an evil world, with evil people, Satan, and with evil nature. This is enough to cause us trouble.

Jesus warned, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). The apostles knew, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In suffering, we are supposed to be joyful, hopeful, and determined. Suffering refines or strengthens our faith; it shapes our character to produce hope. God uses suffering to build our lives, he can turn evil intended against us for our own good. Suffering is not our destination but a temporary valley we go through.  So, the testing of your faith should not destroy your zeal for the Lord rather strengthen it.

Working or studying in AIU may be an opportunity to serve/make a living or further intellectual pursuits respectively. But remember that it is also an opportunity for God to refine your faith and test its genuineness. How do we respond to these moments? God is achieving in us something of greater worth…our character is developed, and our hope grounded more.

Is hope alive in you today? In a hopeless world it is easy to maintain hope. There is hope even when hope is lost because God promises to give us hope (Jer. 29:11).

4. Love (5b-11)– God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

God showed his love to us “at just the right time”- at the fullness of time. This love was lavished upon us when we were weak/powerless, ungodly, and enemies. This love was demonstrated in the death of Christ for sinners; and in adopting us to be sons in his family. (see also Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; 1 Jn. 4:16). This is a love that embraces unconditionally (1 Cor. 13).

He loved us so that we can proclaim this love to others.

Finally, God’s salvation has always been purely through justification by faith. This is the same salvation message to all humanity. The new status of believers as justified not only brings with it some blessings but also some implication of living a godly life in anticipation of God’s final verdict and deliverance from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. #Baraka

justified 2

The Use of Stone Imagery in the Portrayal of Christ, Believers, and Unbelievers: Exegesis of 1 Peter 2:4-10

capstone

Introduction

The epistle of first Peter is one of the New Testament (NT) letters that has instructed, challenged, and encouraged Christians across centuries as they live their faith in an unfriendly world. Evidently, this letter was addressed to Christians in the Greco-Roman world who were suffering because of their faith in Christ.[1]With numerous quotations and allusions to the OT and reference to the life of Christ, the author of 1 Peter brings hope to believers in distress. The same letter remains much relevant today to Christians facing rejection, persecution, and suffering because of faithfully living their faith in a pluralistic world.

The author of 1 Peter uses the stone imagery in 1 Peter 2:2-10 and quotes other “stone” passages in the Old Testament (OT) to show what Christ is to believers; to instruct believers on their new status and position of honor in Christ, and to remind them of unbeliever’s impending downfall. Therefore, this exegetical study of 1 Peter 2:4-10 explores on the use of stone imagery in depicting Christ, believers’ identity, and unbeliever’s miserable destiny. Believers have an initiate relationship with Christ and also they have been given a new identity and life through Christ; while, on the other hand, unbelievers shall eventually experience shame and destruction because of their unbelief. The next section briefly deals with the background information concerning the letter of 1 Peter.

Background Information of First Peter

Authorship

Internal evidence (1:1) identifies Peter, the prominent apostle of Jesus Christ, as the author of 1 Peter. But this position has been challenged by some section of scholars. Basically, these scholars in their arguments raise four objections against Petrine authorship; claims that have also been largely refuted. First, they argue that the polished Greek, the rhetoric, and the extensive vocabulary of the letter is far too high for a Galilean fisherman who in Acts 4: 13 was described as ἀγράμματοί εἰσιν καὶ ἰδιῶται (lit. uneducated and unskilled).[2] These scholars argue that due to this drawback Peter must have received some help from Silas (5:12); but Clowney notes that the Greek in 1 Peter is not as polished in style as has sometimes been argued.[3] Also, the bilingual culture in Bethsaida in Galilee is always not considered in these arguments[4] Clowney 20. On another front, if Peter was formerly not educated, it does not mean that he remained the same over the years without the desire to learn the lingua franca of his time.

Secondly, opponents of Petrine authorship claim that the persecution alluded to in the letter did not occur till after Peter’s death.[5] This objection assumes that the persecutions experienced by Christians were official and general; the opposite could also be true, that the oppressions or persecutions might have been local, unofficial, and sporadic.[6] It could just have been unofficial harassment here and there rather than organized state initiative.

Thirdly, these scholars, against Petrine authorship, claim that the letter is much like Pauline writings. On this, it is worth noting that apostles in their writing generally followed a common tradition, a pattern of sound teaching.[7] Therefore, expectedly, themes and expressions are prone to overlap.

The fourth argument maintains that the letter contains traditional teaching materials from the early church that makes it improbable to have been written by an apostle during apostolic age. Clowney clarifies this idea by arguing that Peter, in the letter, was not giving a personal testimony or narration of the life and works of Jesus because that had been done in the gospel accounts, but giving an interpretation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.[8] These and other objections, remain insufficient to disqualify the traditional attestation and the biblical claim of Peter’s authorship. Therefore, Peter, as one of the eyewitnesses to the earthly life of Jesus, gives us a solid interpretation and implication of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Audience

In the first verse of the letter (1:1) the readers are identified, “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” Geographically, these areas covering Asia Minor, most of modern Turkey, can be best construed as regions than official provinces.[9] From the letter, the churches in these regions comprised both Jews and Gentile believers.

Place of Writing and Date

In chapter 5:13, Peter sends his greetings from “Babylon”. This may not be necessarily the Babylon in Mesopotamia because severally in the Bible, Rome is symbolically called ‘Babylon’ (16:19; 17:5; 18:2). It is highly possible that Peter used it symbolically to be in line with his message of depicting Christian believers as being resident aliens.[10]

The assumption that Peter is the author of the letter, situates the date of writing the letter at AD 62-63. Tradition records that Peter was in Rome only at the end of his life; and since there is no mention of Paul in the letter, it is likely that Peter wrote the letter after Paul had been released from his imprisonment in AD 62, but also before Nero’s persecution (AD 63).[11] Also, noting that official persecutions had not yet broken out, the approximate dating of this letter would be AD 62-63.

 

The Literary Context of 1 Peter 2:4-10

The preceding context (1:13- 2:3) of this pericope has a doxology directed to God the Father for the “new birth” he has given believers into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3). Also, the preceding context presents an exhortation to believers (also portrayed as strangers) to live holy lives (1:13-16), that is, lives that are consistent with God’s holy character. The first three verses in chapter two of the letter is an admonition for believers to grow up in salvation. Notably, verse 3 ends with a quotation from Psalm 34:8, “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Therefore, the author discusses the pericope at hand in light of the “new birth” (1:3) or in other words, believers having tasted the Lord and found Him to be good. The author now expounds on the relationship between Christ and believers, believer’s identity, and the destiny of the unbelievers. The subsequent section after 2:10 continues the theme of Christian living as aliens and strangers; and is followed by an admonition to submit to every authority.

“Stone” Passages in the Bible

This passage (1 Peter 2:4-10) begins with the use of stone imagery to depict the relationship between Christ and believers. It is worth noting that the metaphor employed in this passage is not exclusive to apostle Peter. The stone metaphor is an imagery borrowed from the OT (Ps. 118:22-23; Isa. 8:14-15; 28:16); and significantly, all these three passages are quoted in 1 Peter 2:6-8.

In the New Testament, Jesus identified himself with the rejected stone (Mk. 12:10-11; Matt. 21:42-44; Lk 20:17-18). In Acts 4:11, the stone that builders rejected is identified by apostle Peter as Christ. The stone image is also employed in other epistles (Rom. 9:32-33; Eph. 2:20-22). Jobes notes that,

Peter uses the traditional Jewish understanding of the stone metaphor, but applies it to Jesus Christ, as Jesus himself had. He finds in the stone imagery an expression of both the rejection and exaltation of Jesus Christ, a soteriology based upon divine election, an ecclesiastical mandate for believers, and a basis for judgment of those who reject the Stone.[12]

The exegesis of this passage and explorations of the quotations will be helpful in understanding the use of this imagery in 1 Peter.

 

Verse by Verse Exegesis of 1 Peter 2:4-10

A. Christ as living Stone and believers as living stones (Verse 4, 5a)

Greek text, Verse 4: πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι, λίθον ζῶντα, ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον.

Translation of Verse 4: As you come to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.

Verse 4 of 1 Peter 2 makes a complete shift from the metaphor of Christians as infants in the preceding verses to a stone metaphor. Peter begins this pericope with the phrase πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι[13], (as you come to him); this refers to believers coming to the Lord, Christ. Specifically, believers come to the λίθον[14] ζῶντα[15] (living Stone); who is Christ, identified in verse 3 as ὁ κύριος. Generally, a stone is lifeless thing, but here Peter qualifies it with the adjective ζῶντα in order to apply it to Christ who is the living God. It has been noted that this participle (ζῶντα) is a “characteristic Petrine signal”[16] that shows that the author is using the word “stone” in a metaphoric rather than literal sense.

This living Stone was ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων[17] μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον[18] (rejected by men). Here, Peter generally identifies those that rejected the living Stone as ἀνθρώπων (men) without further specification. The next part of the verse is joined by a contrastive conjuction δὲ; it reads, παρὰ δὲ θεῷ[19] ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον[20] (but in the sight of God chosen and precious). That is, the very stone that mankind (as builders) rejected as unfit is the stone was ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον (chosen and precious) in God’s eyes. The verb ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον is contrastively held in parallel with ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον; while ἀνθρώπων is contrasted with θεῷ. God’s approval of this Stone (Jesus) brings into mind a similar affirmation during the transfiguration of Jesus, “this is my Son whom I love; with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”(Matt. 17:5c). Jesus in his earthly life was rejected as had been prophecied; and precisely, the cross experience was in itself a sign of rejection. From this verse we can note that one can either reject or come to this chosen and precious Stone. But each case has some implications as we shall see in the subsequent verses.

Notably, the first part of verse 5 completes the idea in verse 4, of believer’s relationship with Christ. Believers (identified using the pronoun and nominative subject αὐτοὶ- they) come to the living Stone (Jesus), ὡς λίθοι[21] ζῶντες[22] – as living stones. Significantly, believers share the life of Christ, and share the same identity with Christ as stones.

 B. Believers as spiritual house and Christ as the cornerstone of the house (vv.5b-6a)

Greek Text, Verse 5: 5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον, ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Translation of Verse 5: you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

In addition, “coming to him” is part of God’s grand agenda because believers οἰκοδομεῖσθε[23] οἶκος πνευματικὸς (are being built up as a spiritual house). The phrase οἶκος πνευματικὸς is a predicate nominative. Elliot comments that a ‘spiritual house’ is “a metaphor for the community where the Spirit of God dwells.”[24] A “spiritual house” is therefore, God’s goal in building a community/house with each individual stone. By coming to him, believers are being built up εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον, (to be a holy priesthood). The construction in this phrase as introduced by the preposition εἰς and an accusative is an example of accusative of termination with focus on status. The identiy and nature of the priesthood under the spiritual house is to be holy. The adjective ἅγιον here serves to modify ἱεράτευμα.

The function of this holy priesthood under the spiritual house is depicted by the purpose infinitive (ἀνενέγκαι- to offer); and what is offered is πνευματικὰς θυσίας[25] (spiritual sacrifices). The adjective πνευματικὰς qualifies the direct object (θυσίας). It has been suggested that ‘spiritual sacrifices’ may be “all behavior that flows from a transformation of the human spirit by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1:2),”[26] or “the whole of life is the offering up of sacrifice.”[27]It more probable, in light of Romans 12:1, that ‘spiritual sacrifices’ refer to offering of oneself to God for His purposes.

The quality and suitability of what is offered up is based on God’s terms εὐπροσδέκτους[28] θεῷ[29] διὰ Ἰησοῦ[30] Χριστοῦ[31] (acceptable to God through Jesus Christ). A single adjective (πνευματικὸς- spiritual) has been used to modify the house (οἶκος) and the nature of sacrifices (θυσίας) to be offered in that particular house. Admittedly, Peter is using a spiritual language with the priesthood and temple background and functions in perspective. This is a view that Mbuvi argues when he comments that 1 Peter exibits “reshaping and re-appropriating the institutional elements of the OT cultus within a new framework of Christian experience.”[32] Peter uses the temple language to show that believers, are now given a new status and identity in Christ which was previously enjoyed by Israel. Structurally, the first part of the next verse completes the though that has been taught in verse 5.

Greek Text, Verse 6: διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ, Ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ.

Translation of Verse 6: For it is contained in Scripture: “Behold I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen (and) precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will not be put to shame.”

With the use of OT passages Peter shows that in the spiritual house that belivers are being built up to be holy priesthood and to offer sacrifices acceptable to God, Christ is the very cornerstone of the house. The verse begins, διότι περιέχει[33] ἐν[34] γραφῇ[35] (for it is contained in Scripture).

From verse six to verse eight, the author quotes or alludes to six LXX passages: Psalm 118:22 (117:22 LXX); Exodus 19:5-6; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 43:20-21; and Hosea 2:23 (2:25 LXX). Apparently, he quotes from all the major sections of the OT: Torah, Writings, and the Prophets. These extensive quotation and allusions from the OT undoubtedly reveals the centrality of God’s word to Peter in his reflections on the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.

What is it that is contained in Scripture? In Zion, God has laid a stone, chosen and precious cornestone, (τίθημι[36] ἐν Σιὼν[37] λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον). The two adjectives (ἐκλεκτὸν and ἔντιμον) are the same adjectives used in verse 4, perhaps for emphasis on the centrality of Christ in God’s building project. Jesus in verse 4 is depicted as living Stone, but in relation to the spiritual house that believers are being built into, Jesus is the foundational stone, the cornerstone (ἀκρογωνιαῖον).

C. Believer’s honor (vv.6b-7a); and unbeliever’s and stumbling and sownfall (7b-8)

The second part of verse 6, which is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16 shows the consequences of coming to Christ (verse 4) or trusting in the living Stone, the Cornerstone of the spiritual house. This part begins, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων[38] ἐπ’ αὐτῷ (and the one who trusts in him). Those whose come to him trust in him. To these people, they οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ[39] (will not be put to shame). Through this quotation, Peter wants his readers to know that they shall never be put to shame rather they shall be honored because they have trusted on the one who God has approved.

The Isaiah 28:16 context is a judgment against the house of Ephraim, but verse 16 and the following verses speaks God’s pronouncement of hope to their distressful situation. When compared with the LXX, 1 Peter 2:6 raises several textual issues that we should observe. Peter omits the first part of the verse in LXX (διὰ τοῦτο οὕτως λέγει κύριος – “therefore thus says the Lord”[40]) and replaces it with διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ (for it is contained in Scripture). The LXX has ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ (I will lay) but Peter chooses a different word- τίθημι, in the present tense to replace ἐμβαλῶ which is a future tense. He also omits the pronoun ἐγὼ, perhaps relying on the morphology of the verb. Peter omits εἰς τὰ θεμέλια (“for the foundation”) in LXX and MT and adds the preposition ἐν before Σιὼν. Also, on LXX, Peter also omits πολυτελῆ (“precious”) and εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῆς (“for its foundations”). From these observations, we can conclude that Peter might have been quoting the LXX from memory or expressing the Isaiah quotation in a freer way. Now, do these variations affect the meaning? I don’t think so. Also, Beale agrees that the meaning of the passage remains intact.[41] Peter understands that Jesus fulfiled the prophecy by Isaiah, that he is the cornerstone that God has laid in Zion. So Peter assures his audience that those who put their trust in Jesus will never be put to shame. Verse 7 continues to describe the honor that believers shall receive by quoting Psalm 118:22.

Greek Text, Verse 7: 7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν· ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας.

Translation of Verse 7: Now, this stone is honor, to you who believe. But to those who do not believe, “The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the very cornerstone,”

The first part of verse 7 directly addresses those who believe τοῖς πιστεύουσιν[42] ὑμῖν (to you who believe), to them this stone is  ἡ τιμὴ[43] (honor/precious). In light of verse 4, we can say that those who believe have come to see the Stone through God’s perspective, as precious (ἡ τιμὴ). It has been widely noted that the in Mediterranean culture honor and shame were contrasted; honor “concerned the positive social standing, reputation, and status rating of individuals and groups in the opinion of others and of God,” while shame “…entailed sensitivity regarding loss of honor or the actual loss of honor.”[44] Although Peter’s audience sufffered rejection and shame in their present context, the promise to these believers is that in God’s sight are honored.

The second part of the verse is introduced by the contrastive δὲ and addresses ἀπιστοῦσιν[45] (the unbelieving). He writes, λίθος[46] ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν[47] οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες[48] ({The} stone which the builders rejected). He says οὗτος ἐγενήθη[49] εἰς κεφαλὴν[50] γωνίας[51] (this has become the very cornerstone). Speaking of the cornerstone, in this verse, the author chooses to use a phrase (κεφαλὴν γωνίας) as opposed to ἀκρογωνιαῖον in verse 6. Believers (as builders) embrace this rejected stone but those who do not believe realize that the stone they rejected has become the Cornerstone. By implication, those who do not believe in the foundational Stone (the cornerstone) find themselves building without a long-lasting foundation.

The quotation from Psalm 118 (117:22 LXX) was a psalm sung by Levites during the Passover feast, celebrating deliverance. In their singing, they remembered God who has become their salvation. The LXX rendering of MT in this verse raises no textual issues. It suffices to only note that the words “cornerstone,” or “capstone” are a true rendering of the Hebrew לְרֹ֣אש פִּנָּֽה (the head of the corner) and LXX phase εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας.

The next verse (vv.8), connected by καὶ is another OT quotation that looks at the destiny of those who do not believe by quoting from a section of Isaiah 8:14.

Greek Text, Verse 8: καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου· οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες, εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν.

Translation of Verse 8: and, “A stone that causes stumbling and a rock of offense,” for being disobedient to the word, into which they were also appointed.

The cornerstone that has been rejected by men in their unbelief, according to verse 8, has become λίθος[52]προσκόμματος[53] (a stone of stumbling). This thought is synonmously parallel, with the next section connected by καὶ, πέτρα σκανδάλου (a rock of offense).

The second part of vere 8, after the quotation, gives the reason for the stumbling. In verse 4, the unbelievers reject the foundation stone, in verse 7 their reason for rejection is due to unbelief, but additionally in verse 8, they προσκόπτουσιν[54] τῷ λόγῳ[55] ἀπειθοῦντες[56] (they stumble for being disobedient to the word). And εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν[57] (into which they were also appointed or destined for).

One notable variation between MT to the LXX is the fact that the MT explicitly identifies Yahweh as the stone that causes people to stumble and fall. But the LXX rendering makes it ambiguous, (“and you will not ecounter him as a stumbling stone caused by a stone, nor as a fall caused by a rock”). But Peter in his quotation, bypasses the LXX and reverts to the idea in the MT thus depicting Christ as the one who causes stumbling. So in rendering this verse, Peter exercised some amount of freedom in reverting to the MT whenever he saw he saw some sort of ‘misrepresentation’ in the LXX.

McKnight reflects on verse 7and 8 and comments, “God’s act of appointing Jesus as the living Stone has become both honor for believers and judgment for unbelievers; this was God’s design, and everything happens according to his will.”[58] Emphatically, those who believe in this living Stone rise and those who dont believe in him stumble and fall.

D. Believer’s new status and calling (vv.9-10)

Verse 9 highlights the newfound identity of believers in Christ and their reason for their calling. Verse 10 compares the present status of believers to their former state of unbelief. These two verses contain allusion to Exodus 19:6 (in the Sinaitic context when the covenant between God and Israel was cut); and Isaiah 43:20-21 (in the context of God’s promise to embrace his people after the exile experience). In verse 10 he also makes an allusion to Hosea 2:25 (referring to Israel who had become wayward according to the covenant terms- he uses this passage to show God’s unconditinoal love and mercy to those he has punished). From these contexts, Peter applies to Christians terms that were exclusively applied to the nation of Israel. In doing this, Hagner writes that the church is understood to possess fully the status and privileges of Israel.[59]

Greek Text, Verse 9: 9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς·

Translation of Verse 9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for (God’s own) possesion, that you may proclaim the moral excellence of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Believers are contrasted with unbelievers but by the use of contrastive Ὑμεῖς δὲ (but you). Believers and unbelievers do not share an identiy or calling. Believers, built on the foundational stone, that the unbelievers rejected, now occupy a central place under God’s house and purposes. Peter now makes known the privileged status (status of honor) that believers enjoy in Christ.

First, believers are a γένος ἐκλεκτόν (chosen race). The adjective ἐκλεκτόν qualifies γένος. They are favoured people in the face of the earth. The term “chosen race” is from Isaiah 43:3, 20; applying to the exiles in Babylon, who were naturally the descendants of Abraham. But because of their belief in Christ, believers from all backgrounds are now one race in Christ; “Peter here makes the radical claim that those who believe in Jesus Christ- whether Jew,Gentile, Greek, Roman, Cappadocian, Bithynian, or whatever- though from many races, constitute a new race of those who have been born again into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”[60] God is forming one community from people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Secondly, believers are βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα (a royal priesthood). The adjective βασίλειον qualifies ἱεράτευμα. This is certainly a language from the covenant and priesthood that we also find in verse 4-5.  Jobes highlight the mediatorial role of the priests, “Peter writes, applying the identification to the people of the new covenant in Christ, who are now ordained with the role of a royal priesthood mediating God in Christ to the nations.”[61] But Beale empasizes the character and the priestly function of the people of God as “to be holy and offer sacrifices to God, and only in that context mediate between God and fallen humanity.”[62] Therefore, Christians now have a mediatorial role between God and men and at the same time the obligation to reflect God’s holy character. The phrase ‎ מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים(kingdom of priests) in Exodus 19:5 is rendered by both LXX and Peter as βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα (“royal priesthood”).

Thirdly, from an allusion to Exodus 19:6, believers are ἔθνος ἅγιον (a holy nation). The adjective used (ἅγιον) tells us of our identity in relation to God. God who had cut a covenant with his people is a holy king and therefore God’s people needed to be holy just as He is holy.

Fourthly, believers in Christ are λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν περιποίησιν[63] (a people for God’s own possesion). This alludes to Exodus 19:5 during the exodus experience and and Isaiah 43:20-21 referring to the Israelites in the Babylonian exile.

Precisely, the purpose and calling for believers is ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε[64]τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος[65] εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν[66] αὐτοῦ[67] φῶς (that you may proclaim the moral excellence of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light). The accusative ἀρετὰς is a direct object, while ὑμᾶς is used as a double accusative. The genitives ἐκ σκότους is a genitive of place, the place of darkness. Believers now have the wonderful opportunity and privilege to declare the praises of God who called them our of the kingdom of darkness into his wonderful light. On this aspect, Beale and Carson comments,

The excellencies of God that Isaiah has in view are manifested in the deliverance of his people from the exile; the excellencies of God that Peter has in view are manifested  in the salvation and transformation of his people, along with the hope that they enjoy for the consummating transformation—all of which was which was achieved by the ministry, death, and resurrection of God’s own Son[68]

The last verse in this pericope (verse 10) is a reminder of the the change that has been brought by this life transforming calling.

Greek Text, Verse 10: οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.

Translation of Verse 10: Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This verse contrasts believers and unbeliever’s status before God. Here ποτε (once) refers to the time before the ‘coming to him’. Believers, as the nominative subject (λαὸς) expresses, were were formely οὐ λαὸς (not a people) but now they are not mere people but νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ[69] (but now the people of God). He also reminds believers in Christ that formerly οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι[70] νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες[71] (you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy). Their coming to God in search for mercy was not in vain. They received it and both their status and calling changed. In the allusion to Hosea 2:3 (2:25 LXX) Peter assumes that his readers are a fulfilment of that prophecy. In Hosea 1-2, the people God calls “not my people” are Israelites who had broken their covenant with God and Hosea profoundly illustrates this through the naming of his childrem. Although God had called them  לֹ֣א עַמִּ֑(not my people) God embraced them again by showing them his great mercy.

 

Implications of Believer’s New Identity and Calling in the Contemporary Context 

The fact that believers as living stones are being build up into a spiritual house should cause the church today to value community because it is God’s idea. Each individual person finds identity and purpose in the unity of the entire body. In this spiritual house each person belongs and shares the identity as living stones. It should be highlighted here that for a christian community to flourish Jesus should occupy the center stage. It is unfortunate that sometimes Jesus is relegated to the periphery and other factors like politics, socio-economic status or a charismatic figure become the rallying factor in fellowships and churches. For a lasting and meaningful fellowship, Jesus should remain the cornerstone. This is a key factor that DeSilva underscores by noting that, “the privilege of being God’s house and priesthood draws the hearers in the centripetal direction Peter desires—toward Christ and one another, committed to Christian community—and offsets the centrifugal forces of society’s pressures.”[72] Oneness in a community helps its constituent members manage the external pressures from the world.

Another application point that comes from this pericope is the redefinition of what it means to be “God’s people.” Peter redefined what it means to be ‘God’s people’ by showing that all those who believe, whether Jews and Gentiles, are now God’s special possession. He then refers them as: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possesion, and a people who have received mercy. Although he was a Jew by birth, he did not advantage Jews or his heritage in his arguments as a special people of God over others. Therefore, in a context where the issue of negative ethnicity abounds (even in churches), we need to redefine what it means to be “God’s people”. Peter acknowledges that there are only two races: those who have come to Christ and those who have not, those who have received mercy and those who have not. The rest of other distinctions misses God’s view of things.

Conclusion

Through this study 1 Peter 2:4-10 has clearly highlighted that Christ, the one chosen and precious in God’s sight, has an intimate relationship with believers. Believers, as living stones, are being build up into a spiritual house to be holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable by God. Peter’s in this passage breathes comfort and encouragement, even today, to those who have come to Christ, believed in him, and obeyed his word. The world may alienate, shame, discriminate, or reject them but in God’s eyes they are precious. Assuredly, honor belongs to those who believe but to those who do not believe shame and destruction is their allotment. Knowing this should cause believers to fulfil the purpose of their calling- declaring God’s excellencies in an alien world.

Bibliography

Achtemeier, Paul J., and Eldon Jay Epp. 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter. Hermeneia–a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, Minn: Fortress Press, 1996.

Aland, Kurt, and Barbara Aland, eds. The Greek New Testament. 4., Ed., [4. Dr.]. Stuttgart: Dt. Bibelges, 1998.

Beale, Gregory K, and Donald A. Carson. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Baker Academic Apollos, 2009.

Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed., Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2005.

Clowney, Edmund P. The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Pr., 1992.

DeSilva, David Arthur. An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation. Downers Grove: Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press; Apollos, 2004.

Elliott, John Hall, ed. 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. 1st ed., The Anchor Bible, v. 37B. New York: Doubleday, 2000.

Hagner, Donald Alfred. The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2012.

Jobes, Karen H. 1 Peter. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Mbuvi, Andrew Mũtũa. Temple, Exile, and Identity in 1 Peter. Library of New Testament Studies 345. London; New York: T & T Clark, 2007.

McKelvey, R. J. The New Temple: The Church in the New Testament. Oxford Theological Monographs. London: Oxford U.P, 1969.

McKnight, Scott. 1 Peter: The NIV Application Commentary from Biblical Text.to Contemporary Life. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1996.

Michaels, J. Ramsey, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, Bruce Manning Metzger, and J. Ramsey Michaels. 1 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary, [General ed.: David A. Hubbard; Glenn W. Barker. Old Testament ed.: John D. W. Watts. New Testament ed.: Ralph P. Martin] ; Vol. 49. Waco, Tex: Word Books, Publ, 2004.

Ngewa, Samuel. Companion to Greek Exegesis. Lecture Notes Africa International University. Unpublished, Nairobi, 2018.

Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: And the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Wallace, Daniel B., and Daniel B. Wallace. The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000.

 

Footnotes Section: 

[1] Paul J. Achtemeier and Eldon Jay Epp, 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter, Hermeneia–a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, Minn: Fortress Press, 1996), 29–36. Achtemeier here discusses in considerable detail the probable nature of persecutions at this time by giving three categories: a general official persecution, official local persecution, and unofficial local persecutions. Whichever the case suffering was evident.

[2] Donald Alfred Hagner, The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2012), 688.

[3] Edmund P Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 19.

[4] Ibid., 20.

[5] Ibid., 20.

[6] Achtemeier and Epp, 1 Peter, 35.

[7] D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2005), 644.

[8] Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, 20.

[9] Ibid., 16.

[10] Ibid., 23.

[11] Ibid., 23.

[12] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 144.

[13] Simultaneous participle. The action is simultaneous to the action of the main verb (οἰκοδομεῖσθε- being built up) in verse 5

[14] Accusative of direct object

[15] Used in this case as a predicate participle. Also, the concept of ‘living’ is applied elsewhere in the scriptures: living water, living bread (Jn. 4:10; 5:51); living hope, living God, and living stones in 1 Peter.

[16] J. Ramsey Michaels et al., 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary, [General ed.: David A. Hubbard; Glenn W. Barker. Old Testament ed.: John D. W. Watts. New Testament ed.: Ralph P. Martin] ; Vol. 49 (Waco, Tex: Word Books, Publ, 2004), 98.

[17] Genitive of agency.

[18] Complementary participle. As an extensive perfect- it focuses on the ongoing rejection that began in the past.

[19] Dative of reference/respect.

[20] With the use of παρὰ these two accusatives (ἐκλεκτὸν and ἔντιμον) are accusatives of comparison.

[21] Nominative of apposition, explaining further the nominative αὐτοὶ.

[22] Modal use of participle to express manner, “as…”.

[23] This is the main verb of the participle προσερχόμενοι in verse 4. I am taking it as a passive indicative to mean “you are being built up”.

[24] John Hall Elliott, ed., 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 1st ed., The Anchor Bible, v. 37B (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 153.

[25] Accusative of direct object.

[26] Jobes, 1 Peter, 151.

[27] R. J. McKelvey, The New Temple: The Church in the New Testament, Oxford Theological Monographs (London: Oxford U.P, 1969).

[28] The word can be taken as an epexegetical accusative which expounds further on the preceding accusatives; alternatively, it can be an accusative absolute, that is, because of its independence from the rest of verse, occupying the place of nominative.

[29] Dative of direct object.

[30] Genitive of agent.

[31] Epexegetical genitive, further explaining Ἰησοῦ.

[32] Andrew Mũtũa Mbuvi, Temple, Exile, and Identity in 1 Peter, Library of New Testament Studies 345 (London; New York: T & T Clark, 2007), 37.

[33] Static present

[34] Dative of place

[35] Dative of direct object

[36] Historical/dramatic present- action in the past dramatized as if happening now.

[37] Dative of place.

[38] Substantival participle

[39] The construction μὴ + aorist subjunctive (καταισχυνθῇ) is an expression of prohibition; those who trust in God have never been put to shame and they shall never be put to shame.

[40] The LXX translations I am giving here and thereafter in quotation marks are based on the NETS: Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright, eds., A New English Translation of the Septuagint: And the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title (New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[41] Gregory K Beale and Donald A Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic ; Baker Academic Apollos, 2009), 1026.

[42] Perfective present- the focus is on the present reality of a past action; attribute usage of a participle.

[43] Nominative subject.

[44] Elliott, 1 Peter, 427.

[45] Substantival use of participle.

[46] Is an anarthrous noun, the context demands that a definite article be supplied.

[47] Constative aorist.

[48] Substantival use of participle.

[49] Resultative aorist.

[50] Accusative of termination with focus on the result.

[51] Genitive of direct object.

[52] Nominative subject.

[53] Genitive of cause.

[54] Durative present

[55] Dative of direct object

[56] Simultaneous participle.

[57] Inceptive aorist.

[58] Scot McKnight, 1 Peter: The NIV Application Commentary from Biblical Text to Contemporary Life, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1996), 109.

[59] Hagner, The New Testament, 695.

[60] Jobes, 1 Peter, 159.

[61] Ibid., 160.

[62] Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1031.

[63] Accusative of termination with focus on relationship.

[64] Subjunctive expressing purpose: there is the use of ὅπως+ Subjunctive.

[65] Resultative aorist- “who has called you” as opposed inceptive “who called you”

[66] Accusative of termination with focus on present reality.

[67] Qualitative genitive- God’s marvelous light as opposed to any other type of light.

[68] Beale and Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1031.

[69] Qualitative genitive. People belonging to God as opposed to belonging to oneself or other persons.

[70] Intensive perfect- focusing on state of things. As a participle it is antecedent to the action of the main verb.

[71] Resultative aorist.

[72] David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, Ill. : Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press ; Apollos, 2004), 849.

The Lord will Fight for You…

sword

In several instances the Bible presents Yahweh as Warrior; a mighty Warrior who’s strong in battle. He wages his own wars and wins.

In life we are faced with many battles. As a matter of fact, spiritual warfare is one of the inevitable battles we must face and win because our union with Christ gives us power, strength, and victory.

Few weeks into the wilderness, during the exodus from Egypt, the nation of Israel found themselves trapped between an enemy behind them and a mass of water (Red Sea) before them.

Related, read One more night with the frogs

They had heeded the call of God through Moses to journey to the Promised Land. In a great way, God had demonstrated his power against the powers of Pharaoh and his gods.

But now God’s chosen people were in for a new colossal challenge. With their enemies advancing quickly in pursuit of them, their options to escape and life were dwindling by seconds! It was a real defining moment!

The only available option was to either to surrender to Pharaoh’s might and be slaves forever or fight a losing fight and die.

But Moses provided the third option. He brought in the God-perspective; a perspective that the people were blind to.

Moses knew something about God’s power and presence. He knew God is a miracle worker, a way-maker and performs the impossible. He knew that God presence means victory. He knew that God is a sure and near help to everyone who calls on Him.

These thoughts (though written years later) must have been going through the mind of Moses:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea– (Ps. 46:1-2).

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me–               (Ps. 50:15).

A horse is prepared for battle but victory belongs to the Lord (Prov. 21:31).

He therefore courageously told the complaining and terrified crowd, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:13-15).

This situation also speaks to our situations today…

Four Principles to help/assure us in times of need:

  1. Fear Not (vv. 13)

For sure, fear had crippled the Israelites when the saw the Egyptian army pursuing them. Behind them was an enemy, in front of them was a great sea. The only option, which Moses refocused them to see, was to look up.

Fear is something dangerous in your life. It paralyzes your potential and kills your faith. Fear leads to doubt, complaining, self-pity, and faithlessness. In your situation replace fear with faith and confidence in God. Make a deliberate decision to look up to God in faith. Rise above your fears and believe that you will make it by faith. Remember, God did not give you the spirit of fear but of courage, sound mind and love. Fear not.

Why should we not fear? It should be because God is on our side. We have seen God’s hand and faithfulness the far we have come. Choosing to response in fear does not solve the situation at hand; it only makes you more and more vulnerable to the enemy.

  1. Stand firm and be still (vv.14)

God wants us in our very time of need to be unmoved and to be still. To be unmoved by the number of the enemies, to be unmoved by the weapons they have, and to be unmoved by the powers ‘they’ claim to possess. On our side is a mighty Warrior.

Stand firm because you have a strong Deliverer. On your side is the One who is mighty in battle; the One who shields you in the day of battle.

  1. Be still (vv.14)

Be still because God is in control. Be calm and have a serenity of heart because the battle belongs to the Lord. He will fight for you (be sure to be engaged in battles that God is involved in). He will ensure your bones are not broken. Be still. Be still because by your own efforts you cannot win.

Be still and trust in the Lord, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).

  1. The Lord will fight for you (vv. 14)-

This is a wonderful promise. The Lord shall fight for you.

You have the One who is an enemy to your enemies on your side. Worry not; for victory is your portion. Engage Him in your battles and he will fight for you.

  1. Therefore move/go forward (vv. 15)-

The next order from God to Moses was “God forward!” God wanted his people to take steps of faith; not by walking round the challenge but by going through it. Lack of faith can make us stagnate in one level and be comfortable with the status quo. As they edged to the coastlines of the sea Moses raised his rod and lo and behold the waters parted!

The people walked right in the middle of the sea with the mass of water against them. Move forward, don’t get stuck in the past with its entanglements like unforgiveness, but move forward with hope, optimism, and confidence in God.  In whichever circumstance, sober up and move on…

-The Lord will fight for you; because the battle belongs to the Lord!-

Life of Abundance