Monday, April 4, 2011

THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN A BLESSING!

(1Peter 3:9-17)

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. "1Peter 3:9-17 ESV"


People are always pursuing and seeking after the blessings of God. They want both physical and spiritual or any blessing that God has to offer. For this reason we have people flocking such places where God’s blessings are promised even by people who do not have God’s authority. Meetings that promise health and wealth blessings are well attended. Where there is a glimpse of God’s blessing people rush there and most of the time many miss the Lord for blessings which most of the time are false.
But still the question is how can you obtain a blessing from God in such a evil world? A world full of sin and iniquity? A world full of wickedness and depravity? With men who are bent on doing nothing but evil and sin? As you well know the enemies of God are also enemies of His people. Those who will have nothing to do with God will have nothing to do with His people. With the devil roaming around looking for someone to devour. With evil powers and principalities out to terminate your Christianity. Is it possible to please the Lord at this age? How can you be self-controlled when you are being provoked? How can you pray when you are overwhelmed by sorrow and worries?

The Word of God has answers to all these life questions because it is sufficient for both faith and practice. It is possible to live godly life in this life, wherever you live, whatever work you do, whatever age, gender, colour, language or race you belong, you can obtain God’s blessing by listening to Him.

1. Stay away from evil


a) Do not revenge

We are always to be conscious of who we are – we belong to God. We are his children having been adopted as sons through the redemption we obtained in Christ and the rebirth we obtained from His Spirit. It therefore goes that God’s enemies have become our enemies. We are to expect to be injured, hated, to be cruelly treated, to be slandered, to be mistreated, to be beaten, even killed by these raging enemies. Yet we are to continue living as the children of God. We are to show the world that we belong to God of grace and be gracious.
We are particularly called upon to be the salt and light of the world. We can only do this by being what we are meant to be openly. We have the first injunction here to keep from evil. Knowing that Christians would be hated and evil-entreated by all men for Christ's sake, we are not to return evil for evil, nor railing for railing. On the contrary, when they revile against you, bless them; when they give you evil words, give them good ones.
To render evil for evil, or railing for railing, is a sinful unchristian practice. Christians may only seek a legal remedy when they are wronged for the civil rule to do its work. Private revenge by fighting, scolding, or secret mischief, is forbidden (Prov.20:22; Luk.6:27; Rom.12:17; 1Thess.5:15). Vengeance belongs to the Lord, who cares for His people. Remember Daniel when he was falsely accused and was thrown in the lions’ den, when he was vindicated he did not pursue revenge, he waited for the king to punish the evil people. So for you as a Christian, you ought to avoid bitterness on those who have ill –treated you. Do not speak angrily, contemptuously, reproachfully, spitefully, or provokingly to those who have injured or hurt you. Instead;

b) Bless your enemies

The way to abstain from resentful retaliation is to act in a positive way for as Christians we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Christ has both by His Word and by example called you to bless those who curse you. Moreover, He has settled a blessing of an everlasting inheritance for you, as unworthy as you were. To bear evils patiently, and to bless your enemies, is the way to obtain this blessing of God.
The Lord made it very clear on the Mount that the citizens of His kingdom will always act differently from the ones who belong to this world. (Matt.5:44) “Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those that persecute you. We must not in any way justify them in their sin, but we are to do justice and good for them. They are pitiable in their obstinacy because we also behaved the same until when the Lord came to transform us by His grace. We would still be wallowing in the mire of sin where it not for the grace of God. So we are obligated to extend this grace to them so that may be they will as a result see the love of God in us and turn to Him. Therefore, we must pity, pray for, and love those who attack and revile at us.
How do we bless the enemies? By praying for them. and sometimes even taking the gospel to them especially when they ask. We are even to give them when they are in need! “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink”. This way the Bible says, they will be silenced. If not, then you will have heaped burning coals on their head! (Rom. 12:20)

c) Control your members


An excellent prescription for a comfortable happy life in this quarrelsome ill-natured world is to tame your members. The most aggressive member is tongue and lips (James 1:26; 3:5-8). It is the tongue that easily lets out what one is hiding from inside. The manner in which our tongue is either fixed or loosened is a sure parameter of one’s self-control. So keep your tongue from reviling, evil-speaking, threatening and slandering, and your lips from lying, deceit, and cursing. Outbursts in anger should not characterize Christians.
It is lawful to consider temporal advantages as motives and encouragements to religion. The practice of religion, particularly the right government of the tongue, is the best way to make this life comfortable and prosperous. a sincere, inoffensive, discreet tongue, is a singular means to pass us peaceably and comfortably through the world. We are especially told to be slow to speak and quick to hear (James 1:19).
Instead a Christian should be controlled. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23; 1Tim1:7).. We are therefore to make every effort to have self-control and increase in it to show that the Holy Spirit is working in us (2Pet. 1:6). Self-control begins from the heart (by the Holy Spirit) then to the mind (By reasoning in light of the Word of God). This then goes to the members so that we are to control our hands not to throw punches. We are to control our feet so that they are not swift to shed blood.
Whatever persecution we might go through, to an extent deserve it. We are sinners ourselves and sometimes we provoke them. we are to be careful not to always blame the devil or our enemies when they harass us because they are sometimes God’s instruments! Remember Cyrus king of Persia was God’s servant to punish Israel for their sinfulness and rebellion. Not that they are righteous as the Lord told Habakkuk but because God’s love being as great to us would want to be bring an immediate correction even by inflicting the worst pain. How to terrible to wait until God uses athen to punish us? We are therefore to bear them patiently knowing that God is working all for our good – whether we have wronged or not God is on our side to bring profit to His children.

d) Pursue peace


Avoid doing any real damage or hurt to your neighbour, but be ever ready to do good, and to overcome evil with good. Seek peace with all men, and particularly your enemies, and pursue it, though it flee from you. Christians are peacemakers (Matt. 5:9.) because they are sons of God – not that they make peace to be sons of God! it is the Christian nature to pursue the peace of men. It is the duty of Christians not only to embrace peace when it is offered, but to seek and pursue it when it is denied. Peace with societies, as well as peace with particular persons, in opposition to division and contention.
The preaching of the gospel is a specific manner in which Christians pursue peace. When the gospel will have taken root in a person then contention, hostility, violence and all desire to injure others is done away with and instead is the desire to follow the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ. Those who follow Him have known the way of peace. Those who are in Christ have been converted and transformed from salvage demoniacs to peaceable sons of God. Those who are in constant communion with the Father are of peace. Prayer is one of the basic means of cultivating peace. So please pray!

2. Live in the presence of God


a) Do not fear for He is with you


God is near us for He has promised us so. And who is He? He is God – the all-powerful Jehovah, the Mighty One of Israel. The great I AM who always keeps His Word. He is the one who has said that moon will not harm you by night or sun by day. He is the one who delivered the Israelites from Israel by His outstretched arm. He outpoured His divine wrath against those who oppressed His people by sending hail and storm, frogs and fleas and locust to devastate their land, boils to ruin their bodies, blood to burn them with thirst, and killed their firstborn overwhelming them with sorrow and overthrew the armies of Egypt. He is the One who parted the Red Sea and overthrew the kings of the hostile nations. He is our God.
God is always engaged on your side: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous (3:12). He takes special notice of them, exercises a providential constant care over them, and bears a special respect and affection to them. His looking after them like the way a shepherd looks after the animals. He makes sure that that there is a constant good for His people. He guides them to the green pastures and still waters with His rod and staff to comfort and protect them.
We live in His presence so we are not fear what they fear (Isa. 8:12). We are to fear Him knowing that they are nothing before Him. We are to know that He will act because He sees what they are doing against us. We are to be content in telling Him and wait for Him to avenge us because that is what He has promised to do. An awful sense of the divine perfections is the best antidote against the fear of sufferings; did we fear God more, we should certainly fear men less.

b) Pray – He will listen

His ears are open to their prayers so that when any injury is done to them they take it to their heavenly Father, whose ears are always attentive to the prayers of his servants in their distresses, and who will certainly aid them against their unrighteous enemies. He heard the cry of His people the Israelites and came. He heard the groaning of Israel again and again during the time of judges and rescued them. He will definitely come when you call to Him. If He did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us to rescue us from the wrath to come how will He also not rescue when the enemies rage and the kings plot against us? He who will not accept any charge leveled against us by the devil, how will He not listen to our cry for help and answer us?
It is your duty to pray because the battle rages on. God always hear the prayers of the faithful, John 4:31; 1John 5:14; Heb. 4:16. As long as there is a battle we are to keep on holding the banner like Abraham, Hur and Aaron and the victory is ours. As long as we have eyes fixed up on the Lord Jesus we will not die or be overwhelmed by the little serpents that bite us. Jesus has triumphed over the all the enemies including the devil and his hosts and even death has been conquered!

c)God will fight for youHe will fight for you

But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil. His anger, and displeasure, and revenge, will pursue them for He is more an enemy to wicked persecutors than men are. The commander of the army of the Lord is on our side. He has fought and is fighting for us and so the victory is sure.
Though God is infinitely good, yet He abhors impenitent sinners, and will pour out His wrath upon those that do evil. He will do Himself right, and do all the world justice. He will especially do this for the sake of His people. That Jesus came on the earth took the human body, lived a righteous life and died on the cross, rose from the dead the third and is now victorious – seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven is a sure prove that God has fought for you and will fight for you up to the end. This is because Christ lives to make intercession for you. He left us with the Holy Spirit to indwell us that we may be victorious in the struggle with is not of flesh and blood. The Holy Spirit is the first deposit guaranteeing our inheritance so that since we have received the first installment, then we are sure that God will give us the rest of it.

d) There is the God’s common grace securing justice

God who works good even for the wicked is your God. He says that you are the apple of His eye. If this is so, He will definitely make sure that even the course of nature in His providence is caring for you. As you know even after the fall of man, God’s image was not completely effaced, although it was marred by sin. Man can therefore reflect a bit of God’s image so that ordinarily, there will be very few as diabolical and wicked as to harm those who live so innocently and usefully as you do. The civil authorities are God’s servant to bring justice and order as at this time. we are to be grateful that our nation is that which embraces Christianity and rarely will you be accosted for your faith.
This is the way to improve sufferings. “If you be followers of that which is good, and yet suffer, this is suffering for righteousness; sake (1Pet. 3:14), and will be to your good and your happiness, as it entitles you to the blessing promised by Christ” (Mat. 5:10).

3. You are blessed now and you will ever be blessed.


a) If you honor Christ

How do we honor or sanctify Christ? We sanctify the Lord God in our hearts when we adore Him with sincerity and fervency. When our thoughts of Him are awful and reverent, when we rely upon His power, trust to His faithfulness, submit to His wisdom, imitate His holiness, and give Him the glory due to His most illustrious perfections.
Christ gave us very specific instruction on how we are to honor Him – by learning from Him, not how to heal or eject demons or raise the dead, but to be meek and lowly of heart, to forbear with one another and to forgive. We sanctify God before others when our manner is that which invites and encourages others to glorify and honour him. So that we are always prepared to talk to others about Him, and especially when they ask us to give a defense of our faith or hope.

a) If you are always prepared to give a defense of your faith

We are to be willing, to give an answer, or make an apology or defense, of the faith we profess. This we should be willing to do to every man who asks a reason of your hope. What sort of hope you have, or why do you suffer such hardships in the world?” Christian faith and hope are defensible against all the world. Christianity is not a fallacy or a fancy but a rational scheme revealed from heaven, suited to all the needs of miserable sinners, and centering entirely in the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
As a result every Christian is bound to answer and defend the hope that is in him. Christians should have a reason ready for their Christianity, so that it may not appear as if they are motivated either by folly or fancy. This defense may be necessary more than once or twice, so that Christians should be always prepared to make it, either to the magistrate like Paul before Festus and Agrippa, or to any inquisitive Christian, who desires to know it for his information or improvement.
These confessions of our faith ought to be made with meekness and fear with good conscience. Apologies for our religion ought to be made with modesty and meekness, in the fear of God, with jealousy over ourselves, and reverence to our superiors.

b) If you suffer for doing good

First, to follow always that which is good is the best course we can take to keep out of harm. We are to be people who do good even and especially where it is not appreciated. We are to se
Secondly, To suffer for righteousness sake is the honour and happiness of a Christian; to suffer for the cause of truth, a good conscience, or any part of a Christian's duty, is a great honour; the delight of it is greater than the torment, the honour more than the disgrace, and the gain much greater than the loss.
Thirdly, Christians have no reason to be afraid of the threats or rage of any of their enemies. “Your enemies are God's enemies, his face is against them, his power is above them, they are the objects of his curse, and can do nothing to you but by his permission; therefore trouble not yourselves about them.
All the true servants of God shall infallibly inherit a blessing – they have it already in a great degree, but the full possession of it is reserved to another state and world. We are therefore to be kind to others so that they may as a result at least desire to come to be with us to this inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that which does not fade away, reserved in heaven for us (1Pet 1:4). You are blessed to the fullness, with or without the persecution and suffering of this age because God has promised to be with us because He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Heb 13:5,6) We are the beloved of the Lord. Praise be to the Lord who is so good.

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