18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit
This verse is a distillation of the Gospel. It conveys the reality that Jesus’ mission was to come and set right the division between God and humanity. Peter reminds us that this was an extraordinary thing that Jesus did in that Jesus was righteous and undeserving of God’s punishment yet he suffered to remove the penalty of sin from those who deserved it, the unrighteous, us. He also eludes to the new life in the Spirit that was established in Jesus.
For me this verse challenges me to be mindful of where I came from and to honor what Jesus did to reconcile me to God. I think often times I rest in the fact that I am saved and I neglect to honor the Lord and the work He has done for humanity. I feel like I need to work on continually submitting to the Spirit and allow Him to guide me more.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to take my penalty on Himself so that I may reconciled back to you. Forgive me where I have failed to show appreciation and honor for that sacrifice. Lord Jesus, thank you for your earthly ministry and your human incarnation. Thank you for modeling what it means to live and to sacrifice for the sake of others. I pray that I would follow your example today. I offer you praise. In your name, Amen.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
This scripture lays out a key concept for the Christian life that I struggle with the most. The idea is that we should never return evil for evil or even hurt for hurt. Peter is teaching us that we should trust God to right the wrongs we experience. It’s a call to dependency on the Father that we have seen all through the life and ministry of Jesus.
For me I think verses like these remind me that no matter what happens God has my back. My priority is to be as good and honorable and Holy as possible and let God sort out the rest. My first obligation should never be to establish justice or equity between myself and another but instead should be a dependency on God, knowing that He perfectly executes justice and equity according to His nature and will. I have to be reminded often but the reality is I just need to love and serve and let the Father take care of me. It’s a struggle.
Heavenly Father, thank you God for your protection and your justice. Forgive me where I have returned evil for evil and hurt for hurt. Forgive me where I have tried to be self-dependent rather than dependent on you. I pray for your peace and protection today. In Jesus name. Amen.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Theses verses are an awesome reminder of our condition as Christians. Peter describes the reality that God has caused us to be born again into relationship with Him through the resurrection of Jesus. He also points out that this relationship entitles us to the inheritance of the eternal Kingdom that unlike everything we know on this earth will never diminish or perish. The final thing Peter reminds us of is that God is active in keeping this inheritance ready and prepared for us.
For me these verses challenge me to remember that this life is just a stop on my way to the eternal Kingdom. The reality is that Heaven is my destination. As I seek Heaven and focus more on Kingdom activities the more my current life with be conformed to the eternal life to come.
Father, thank you for adopting me into the eternal Kingdom. Please help these words by your servant Peter be a reminder to me of where my inheritance lies. Help me be more focused on your plans today and less on my own desires. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
These verses really make an interesting observation about the human condition. James is teaching here that much of the strife we face in this life is do to discontentment that arises from pursing the “stuff” of this world. His contention is that our passions and desires for earthly things create in us covetousness and we end up looking at others as people who have the stuff we don’t or as people who are beneath us because of they lack the stuff we have. James also points out that even though the Father is poised to give us everything we ask for we fail to ask Him or we ask Him with motives that are selfish or tied to our own earthly desires, therefore we do not receive.
For me these verses are a renewed call to battle the flesh and the sinful earthly desires that it generates. We live in a culture that measures success by what we can obtain and possess, but the Scripture never endorses this type of life style. The Scriptures teach us that God alone is our inheritance and reconciliation and relationship with Him is the goal. For us saved by Jesus, the challenge is to find contentment in that reality, not worrying about money, food, or clothing because our relationship with God promises peace in provision in all circumstances.
Heavenly Father, I pray for your peace and for freedom from chasing after stuff or status. Forgive me where my own desires have muddled the contentment and peace that you have provided me. Help me rest better in that reality today. In Jesus name. Amen.
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
James is making a pretty strong case about how the tongue even though small can be our undoing. He points out that with our tongue we can praise God and then turn around and curse those He created. It speaks to the duality of man and the constant battle we face against the flesh.
For me these verses really drive home the idea that I have to be very careful what I say. I would hate to sully my proclamation of God by using my tongue to praise God and also to verbally tear someone down. I know there have been times that I have said things to folks that completely tarnished my witness about Jesus. I need to work hard to keep my tongue in check.
Father, I pray that my tongue would be an instrument of praise to you and an instrument of life and encouragement to others. Forgive me where I have used words to discourage and tear others down in the past. I pray that going forward my words would testify of the Gospel and reveal your goodness. Amen.
 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)
James moves from talking about temptations (that God never gives) to telling us what God does give. Every good and every perfect gift. He reminds us of God’s goodness. When we are faced with trials, they are not to tempt us to sin, but rather they are to strengthen us and make us more Christ like. God does not produce evil because His nature is good. Every gift that God gives to us is good–it is sufficient, it lacks nothing, it is beneficial and complete.
The second portion of this verse states that these gifts come “down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James chose the phrase “Father of lights” because it was a Jewish phrase which referred to God the Creator of the heavenly “lights”. What I like is the part that says, “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God never changes. He doesn’t shift. God’s mercy never ceases and nothing can stop His goodness.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your good and perfect gifts. Thank you for your unchanging character. Thank you for the trials that you send to strengthen my faith. Help me to be more like You. Amen.
This verse brought this 18th century hymn by Robert Robinson to mind, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I pray the words will bless you.
1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
3. O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.