Thursday Thoughts: The Heart of Peter

Today was one of those days where (since I usually have most of my “quiet time” with God at day’s end, when I function best) I forget by the end of the day that I spent quite a bit of time at His feet in the morning… Days like that are few and far between, more than they should be. I remembered this morning both why I should get up before the sun breaks and why I don’t. Graciously, God’s strength carries me through, but that’s not entirely normal – especially when I’m dead tired and sitting in a Starbucks at 6:30 a.m.

Regardless, recent days when I’ve been able to get up and function, I have been greatly blessed with rest for my soul and by an in-depth study of Peter’s letters (I & II Peter). Chris encouraged me months ago to sift through these epistles, and I put them off as I read Psalms and did other things. Just before going to Phoenix, I had the opportunity to start I Peter, and worked my way through most of it while sitting in Eddie and Jen’s living room in fellowship while we all read and sought God on our own – together, with some questions and debates thrown in (as only the four of us can). Then, as I sat alone last Saturday while the rest of the family went skiing, I worked my way through II Peter.

I’d like to share some of what I gleaned from these eight beautiful chapters and the heart of Peter. I feel II Peter 3:1-2a sum things up quite nicely (though you might not think so at first glance):

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember…

Peter goes on to list several things, but as I read this first piece of the final chapter, I was struck by how Peter entreats these people that he loves so dearly to remember, to remind themselves. So the natural question, especially after he references both of his letters, is: “What is he trying to remind them of?”

In reviewing notes from both letters, I came away with five key items:

1) Grace is costly. Jesus Christ was really God, humbled in human form for the sake of our redemption. He really died on a cross, nailed there, with a crown of thorns. And there were witnesses still alive in the generation reading this letter for the first time who saw Jesus Christ walk again alive on this earth after His death. This is the turning point of salvation – any other Gospel than costly grace is a false gospel.

2) Because a great price was paid for our redemption, we respond by living uprightly in the freedom we now have from the corrupting power of sin. This upright living does not justify us before the throne of Almighty God – it is merely our response to correctly understanding the complete purchase and power of the blood of Christ at Calvary.

3) This understanding leads to compassion and subsequently to unity within the Church, the body of Christ. Because we understand that we have been forgiven much, we are able to forgive much and love much. We find unity with those whom we would otherwise have no reason to be in the same room with, much less to love and unite with in a common purpose for life. This unity protects us from false teachers and creates a shelter for us from the challenges of living in earthly kingdoms.

4) Because Christ’s rescue and redemption is beautiful and complete, we can also entrust judgement to Him. Life will be hard. Circumstances will arise in which we have no earthly response available to us other than to continue on in faith, trusting that He will ultimately make things right as He has in our salvation, and that He will judge those who have gone against His kingdom and His children. We need not fear what man can do to us – we only need concern ourselves with continuing onward in His promises.

5) Faith in Christ’s victory over our sin and its death means salvation is ours! He has overcome the grave and the corruption of sin that so easily entangles our souls. We can trust that salvation is ours because of the other four pieces. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Since last Friday, I have been listening to Bethany Dillon’s “Satisfy” off of her To Those Who Wait EP (which was released last Friday). I had enough money to buy one song, and that was the one I chose. I can’t stop listening to it. I need the reminders. I need to know every day that what bought my freedom was costly and glorious and beautiful and satisfying in every way.

The human soul can be filled with regret;
   we never forget where we’ve gone wrong.
Almighty God stands ready to forgive
   all of our offense in a crimson flood.
   

With my first breath, I drew in depravity –
   Needing Your mercy even in my first hour.
I’m proof the cross is as able today
   as when the Lamb was slain on the Altar of God.

It is so beautiful; so beautiful!
   I feast my eyes at how You satisfy my soul.

I keep coming back to this. As many times as I’ve heard these words this last week, I continue to hear them and weep wildly and openly. Unashamed, I cried for a while this morning at Starbucks – tears of joy and wonder at the incredible mercy of Almighty God.

I need the reminders of the price at which I was bought. The promise of Easter is costly. Don’t let it just be another holiday. Seek to prepare your heart early. Carry an understanding of Peter’s heart with you every day: Remember.

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