1 Peter 2:1-3; Ephesians 4:11-32
A creature like no other
image of the living God
* woven together in the depths of the earth (Ps 139)
microcosm of the cosmos
distillation of divine wisdom
The potter’s wheel, clay taking form
head, torso, arms, legs
* dust you are, to dust you shall return (Gen 3:19)
yet, animated by the breath of life
ruler over all earth’s creatures
Woman from the rib of Man
same bones, same blood, same conscience
* husband and wife becoming one flesh (Gen 2:24)
man, angular, muscular, strong—handsome
woman, soft, smooth, curvaceous—beautiful
The body, physical materiality, yet spiritual reality
* you are mere infants in Christ; I gave you milk not solid food (1 Cor 3:1-2)
* like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk
. . . so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet 2:2)
* you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Pet 2:2)
* brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children
. . . in regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults (1 Cor 14:20)
The body, heavenly reality
* the Word became flesh (John 1:14)
* all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form (Col 2:9)
* whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (John 6:54)
* a new and living way opened to us through the curtain, his body (Heb 10:20)
The body, earthly community
* in Christ, we who are many form one body (Rom 12:5)
* God appointed Jesus to be the head over everything for the church
. . . which is his body, the fullness of him, who fills everything in every way (Eph 1:22-23)
* the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
. . . grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Eph 4:16)
Life Application Questions
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Today’s Scripture resource passage is an accurate frame of faith. Displayed in 88 words (NIV translation) 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is a precisely mitered surround, emphasizing faith’s boundaries. Truthful confidence constructs the frame.
“…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, … he was buried, … he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, … he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Framing a portrait protects the art, providing firm stability. Families, businesses, and museums ensure each frame provides security for high-value paintings, prints, and photographs.
Even if the piece is a childhood memento done with finger paints, framing the creation makes a statement for all to see: there is an object of value here. This is part of our family history. We embrace and celebrate its significance.
When faith’s presence is established it arrives with precise words, carefully measured. Mitered corners are accurately joined. We are carried through this life as we live with eternal life. We know that through Christ, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:2).
There are at least four strong sides in faith’s frame which is recorded in today’s passage. Use the time wisely and identify them. Here are two to help you: 1.) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. 2.) he was buried, … he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; 3.) 4.) .
If you were charged to create faith’s frame what words and images would you use?
Do historic frames created by earlier generations of disciples help you frame your faith? The Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed are two examples. These and other examples are available through online resources.
The title of the song, “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston, may be true or not. How long is “always?” Is it a lifetime, or until someone else changes her mind? Is love always nice?
Handel’s Messiah is replete with verses from Isaiah 40 that tell of God’s love for His people. Unfortunately, Israel as a nation was in captivity because of their idolatry. Can God’s judgment be true love? Interestingly the chapter begins with Comfort my people.
George Frederic Handel chose this passage of Scripture for many of the lyrics to Part I of his “Messiah.” He recognized that Isaiah was prophesying the deliverance of God’s people. See the lyrics by song number below:
2. Tenor Recitative. — Isaiah 40:1-3. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
3. Tenor Air — Isaiah 40:4. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”
4. Chorus — Isaiah 40:5. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
9. Alto Air and Chorus — Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1. “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God! Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
20. Alto Air — Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28, 29. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young...”
Such precious truths! These verses prophesy the comfort coming for God’s people. “The basis for the comfort is the coming of the Messiah. The guaranty of the comfort which is promised is the Word of God in its everlastingness, which is alluded to in 1 Peter 1:24, 25.“ (Alfred Martin, Isaiah - The Salvation of Jehovah, p. 69)
But how can God’s love allow captivity? And is comfort grounded in true, eternal love?
Contrasting man’s well-intended “always,” to God’s truly eternal love, is evident in Isaiah 40:8. It is true that grass withers. The new grass planted in my yard has withered and scorched from the heat, despite the time spent planting, spreading straw, and watering.
The flowers that were beautiful this summer are done blooming for the season. But the Word of God remains. Steadfastly. Never fading. Gloriously providing the truth that points us to the Creator’s love. His never-fading love. This is true love that disciplines as needed and restores and comforts.
Chapter 40 “ends with the encouraging truth that because God is all-powerful, He can give strength to those who need it” (Martin, p. 69). God’s truth and the details of His everlasting love are found in 1 Peter 1:25: But the Word of the Lord remains forever.
1 Peter 1:23-25, John 3: 1-21
When you hear the word, family, what do you think of? We are all children of the same spiritual family. When you consider the implications of this fact, you will be encouraged to build and maintain unity among God’s people. Our spiritual bloodline stretches from the cross to eternity.
The only way to enter God’s spiritual family is by spiritual birth, to be born again. (John 3: 1-16) Each believer has the same Holy Spirit. “…your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) We call on the same Father. “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work, impartially, live out your time as foreigners here, in reverent fear.” (1 Peter 1:17) We have trusted the same gospel and been born of the same Spirit and “abide” as foreigners, together, in a refugee camp known as The Church. How does being part of God’s family bring you joy? What challenges do you face as a family member of God’s family?
The externals of the flesh that could divide us mean nothing when compared to the eternals of the Spirit that unite us. Psalm 133: 1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Read 2 Corinthians 13:11, Galatians 3:28, Philippians 2:2; How can we create more unity with our family of Christ followers? Each person joins our spiritual family in the same way - through the blood of Christ. What does the spiritual family portrait look like? Does it include the Grandma down the street, the prisoner, the person on skid row, the professor, or the loud and annoying student in your classroom? Take a moment and think about God’s family in your workplace, God’s family in war-torn Afghanistan, God’s family in your child’s classroom, and God’s family in your neighborhood. What does it mean to be part of this glorious family of Christ followers?
The same truth that we trusted and obeyed to become God’s children also nurtures and empowers us. We love our spiritual family, deeply from the heart, because “…you have been born again…through the living and enduring Word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23) God’s Word to us becomes our guide as we move through the refugee camp of The Church, building unity through our obedience, as we are all foreigners, traveling to the Promised Land.
1 Peter 1:22; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:9-13
As a child, I was glued to the radio every Saturday morning (along with thousands of other kids) to listen to Let's Pretend." Like every other listener, I was pretending, caught up in those childhood fantasies, and even today the theme melody often comes to mind.
Some of us are really good at pretending, finding it a great way to escape reality. Other people don't seem to need pretense; they are confident in what they're experiencing and thinking. And they don't hesitate to let it be known. But what must it have been like for those to whom Peter was writing in the first century?
When it comes to living as a refugee in a dangerous and unfamiliar place, don't you imagine those Christ-followers might have been tempted to use pretense in order to survive-to hope that things might be different? But the reality of their lives certainly didn't allow for much pretending. Genuine faith in their Savior and obedience to his instruction were essential for their daily experience.
Could it have been that the experiences of the first century Christians were much like those of the Old Testament saints we read about in Hebrews 11? How so?
Both Paul and Peter give clear directions about living as Christians, whatever our circumstances. And for some of us it's really difficult to follow their instructions: Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them (Paul in Romans 12:9, emphasis ours). And Peter said we should have sincere love for each other because we know the truth. (1 Peter 1:22). They both understood that Jesus didn't leave any doubt about his will for us when he said, I am giving you a new commandment; Love each other! (John 13:34)
Reflect a bit on examples of true Christian love you've seen among the family of believers.
Many Christians would have to confess, "I can't stand some people; how am I supposed to love them? Wouldn't that be hypocritical?" We need to understand that such an attitude is based solely on feelings. "I don't feel love for them." That thought is the result of popular concepts of love and a misunderstanding of biblical love. Love is a verb, an action word. This kind of love (agapé) could be defined as "acting toward others in their best interest ( whether I feel like it or not)." In our western world, it's all about me and my feelings. But in Peter's world and the world of his readers, it was about survival. There was no room for pretense. You might even say it was "all for one and one for all." And in that setting, he urges them to show sincere love for each other.
Is it hard for you to even pretend to love some people God has put in your life? I confess, this is hard for me, so what do I do? Sadly, I admit I often do my best to avoid them. And that is certainly not what Jesus wants for me. So, is there a solution to this dilemma? The answer, of course, is "Yes." Asking the Holy Spirit for his enabling, we have to begin to act in the best interest of others (whether we feel like it or not) with a sincere effort to please God and to help others. In doing so, you may even discover that God changes your heart attitude toward people you formally didn't like.
In the midst of twenty-first-century pandemics, civil wars, and political unrest, can you find someone who truly needs to be loved and determine to demonstrate God's love for them in tangible ways?
gmd & jbd