Gird Up the Loins of our Minds

I Peter 1:13-14.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

There are actually four verses in this passage, all in one sentence. We’re going to look at them in two parts. The first concerns preparing for war.

In the Bible, words like therefore and wherefore refer back to what was just written. It’s always a good thing, when doing a verse-by-verse study, to go back and read again what has already been discussed, so that the thread of the message is not broken.

To gird up one’s loins was simply to take the length of the standard long robe worn by both men and women and to tie it up in such a way that one could run and fight unencumbered by fabric wrapping around one’s ankles or knees. The graphic above is a good illustration of this process, wrapping and tying the fabric to prepare for battle.

Peter used this well-known illustration to draw a picture for his readers of the importance of “girding up the loins of their minds” in preparation for spiritual battle. How did one go about that process? Prayer. Meditating on God’s Word. Knowing God’s word, filling up one’s mind with His promises and assurances of His presence in every circumstance. We are to hide God’s Word in our hearts in order to avoid sin. His Word is to be a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our way. It is to keep us from stumbling on the traps and pitfalls that Satan sets in our paths.

After the loins of our minds have been prepared, we are to be serious, not careless. We are to depend upon the surety of the hope of our salvation. I want to emphasize that the meaning of hope here is not that we say, “Oh, I really HOPE I’ll go to heaven.” Rather it is the absolute assurance that, because of our faith in God, we have that blessed hope already in our hearts and minds. It’s not a “maybe.” It’s an “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Furthermore, we are to be obedient to Him in breaking off our former lusts and desires. Now that we are no longer ignorant of the grace and mercy of God toward us, we have no reason to rely on “former lusts” for our happiness.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Convoy and War

It’s Saturday evening, about 8:30. I just watched a video of the convoy rolling out of Vega, Texas on their way to Oklahoma. It’s close to 14 miles long, and picks up more trucks as it travels toward D.C.
People are crowding the overpasses all along the route, waiting to cheer the truckers on their way.

Meanwhile, Putin is gearing up to bomb Kyev “heavily” tonight, rolling tanks into Ukraine instead of trucks. People have died, including children who, in my opinion, are the most tragic victims in any war. I have to wonder how a man who claims “strength and truth” are on his side justifies the slaughter of little children who were happily playing in their apartments, houses, or yards just a couple of days ago.

Anyone who has been paying attention has to realize that if Putin gets away with annexing Ukraine, he’s going to feel free to begin reconstructing the old Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has seen China invading its airspace this week, testing the waters, so to speak. As soon as China see Putin succeeding, it will begin the real terror in Taiwan. I truly fear for the people there. China is not well-known for its humane treatment of the people it subdues.

So we have the Russian bear gearing up for world domination; and we have a hungry China doing the same thing. Lots of people are saying prophecy is being fulfilled, and may they’re right. Things sure are shaping up here in America for some serious conflict.

Things is, if we know the scriptures, we know how it’s all going to end. We just don’t know the timeline. So what do we do?

We get serious about prayer and knowing our Bibles. We continue to rear our families and teach our children truth. We live our lives the best we can, and trust God for the future. We don’t hide in despair, leaving our so-called leaders to continue the destruction of our country. We speak up. We stand up, willing to bear the consequences. We keep our testimonies pure and clean, and know that God has never lost control. Not for one single moment.

Horses, Cows, and Pigs

I have a whole collection of strange animal encounters. Yesterday I got to add another.

My daughter-in-law came into the living room saying, “Y’all don’t have horses, right? There are horses running around your back yard!”

Well, no, we don’t have horses. However, our neighbor on the corner does. In the 28 years we’ve lived here, I’ve never seen them get loose from their enclosure. Sure enough, though, here they came running across our back yard, heading home to their own stable. Our neighbor was out there , but she really didn’t need to do much. They were clearly headed for home.

So now we have the prints of their hooves to remind us they were here. The ground is soft and mushy from the recent rain and snow. I kind of like seeing those clots and remembering the beauty of the animals that made them.

Years ago, we were living in Iron River, Michigan. Small town. There was a radio program called “Telephone Time” in which people could call in and ask for recipes, or offer a car for sale, or whatever else was on their minds. I didn’t always listen, but this particular morning I did. Someone called in and said that their cow and her buddy, their pet pig, had escaped their enclosure, and would anyone who sees them please call.

At just about the same moment, I glanced out our livingroom window and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a cow and a pig running across our field. Now, this is not an every-day event! I was fascinated to watch them. It’s really not often you see a cow running, and especially in tandem with her buddy the pig.

I called the number and reported the siting. Not too much later, the host of the radio program announced that the cow and pig had been rounded up, and thanks to all who called in to report a location.

I have many other unusual animal events. Don’t know why, but they seem to follow me.

And this is a very random post. No point. Just entertainment 🙂

Things About Which Angels Wonder

I Peter 1:12. “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

The consistency of scripture is apparent over and over, as we read faithfully through the Bible. Peter is saying here that the prophets knew that the things that were shown to them were important at the time, but also later generation. Those of us who have lived since Jesus came, died, rose and returned to heaven, are privileged to live apart from the Law, not having to concern ourselves with every jot and tittle, because Jesus took care of all that for us. Instead, we live in the grace of His love and mercy toward us.

The gospel we receive through study, teaching, and preaching is the gospel of salvation by grace through faith, not of our own works. It is so amazing that even the angels are fascinated by it. They never knew the joy of a lost soul coming to Christ in repentance, seeking forgiveness. They watch, and wonder, and desire to look into what God has done.

David Guzik’s notes in say it more succinctly and clearly than I can:

“i. Part of God’s eternal purpose is to show His wisdom to the angelic beings through His work with the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). God wants the angels to look in on what He does in the church, and the idea is that the angels are bending over with intense interest and desire to learn.

ii. Therefore, they desire to see and learn. This word “Denotes a strong interest or craving. The present tense portrays a present, continued inner yearning to comprehend. The term does not imply that the desire cannot or should not be fulfilled, but it does mark an enduring angelic effort to comprehend more of the mystery of human salvation.” (Hiebert)

iii. “The longing must therefore include a holy curiosity to watch and delight in the glories of Christ’s kingdom as they find ever fuller realization in their lives of individual Christians throughout the history of the church.” (Grudem)

iv. “First Corinthians 4:9Ephesians 3:10, and 1 Timothy 3:16 likewise picture the supernatural world eagerly observing God’s program of human redemption. The concept seems grounded in Jesus’ words in Luke 15:710 where angels are said to rejoice over one repentant sinner.” (Hiebert)”

Did you ever think about the curiosity of the angels regarding what God has done for mankind? They rejoice over each soul who comes to Christ! They themselves do not experience salvation as we do. But they watch, and learn, and continue in their curiosity as the ages pass by.

It’s amazing to me!

The Spirit of Christ in Them

I Peter 1:10-11.

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

The Old Testament prophets searched out the meaning of our salvation. They prophesied about the grace that would provide our salvation, but their own personal experience did not include what we have because Jesus had not yet come, not yet died and risen, conquering sin and death.

Sometimes, when I’m studying some of these incredible men, I wonder if they felt frustrated that the things which they foresaw only dimly were not completely clear to them. If they were, they never let the frustration stop them from delivering the warnings and messages God had given them. Some of them died horribly at the hands of a rebellious people who did not want to hear. Others, such as Hosea, were instructed to do things that went against the norm, thereby drawing attention to themselves so that they could deliver the message to the people. It wasn’t easy, being a prophet. Not a task that would bring fame, glory, and riches.

And they enquired and searched diligently as to the character of our salvation. They knew they were speaking to both their contemporaries and to those who would live generations later. Peter was pointing out here that his own teachings were not a novelty; but they were different because Jesus had come and completed the Law, providing a kind of grace that had not been experienced by the Old Testament prophets, but certainly fulfilled their prophecies.

There is a movement in some Christian circles to just focus on the New Testament, leaving the Old Testament behind. I believe such teaching is heretical. The grace and mercy of God shows itself over and over throughout the Old Testament. We have so much to learn from the Old Testament, and to be able to teach, for example, from Revelation in the light of the book of Daniel or Ezekiel or Isaiah enriches our understanding. Holy Spirit inspiration is NOT restricted to the New Testament. If God inspired it, then we have no business ignoring it or saying it no longer applies. II Timothy 3:16-17 says,

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect (complete, mature), thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

We are both arrogant and foolish to decide that a large portion of the Bible is no longer relevant.

Verse 11 makes clear that it was the Spirit of Christ in the prophets that enabled them to foresee the coming of Jesus, and that He would be the perfect sacrifice to provide salvation to those who believed in Him.

The Old Testament looks forward, toward the Cross. The New Testament moves forward from the Cross. The Cross is the centerpiece, in either direction.

Joy Unspeakable

I Peter 1:8-9.

Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Verse 8 refers back to v. 7: “. . . . honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” Whom, having not seen, ye love. . .”

Can you imagine what it must have been like to have seen Him, spent three years in His constant company, walked with Him, learned from Him, watched Him suffer and die; then having seen His resurrected form, and witnessing His return to the Father, being commissioned to go and preach His gospel!

We who believe have not seen Him, yet we love Him. How much more, when we see Him face to face!

I can’t wait!

If we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory now, how much the more when we are with Him forever! The heart simply overflows at the thought.

When we see Him, we will receive that blessed hope, the end (result) of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls.

I am struck once again with the poetry of Peter’s language. Such deep love and devotion results in the beauty of language that we enjoy in this book. We are so blessed!

The Trial of Your Faith

I Peter 1:6-7.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I met a woman yesterday whose family came to America to escape almost certain death at the hands of those who hated their religion, and systematically killed whole families and then moved into their houses and lands. She said, “I grew up in terror. When we came to America, it was hard to get used to not being threatened and harassed. It is heartbreaking to see the same evil developing here in this, the last place in the world to which people thought they could come to be safe.” She went on to say, with a completely puzzled expression on her face, “The irony is that the threats are coming from the government!”

Christians, in Peter’s day, were living that same experience. They were being tested, and the trials would escalate.

In verse 6, the wherein refers back to vv. 4-5. They were to rejoice in their incorruptible inheritance, and not focus on the immediate trials. Peter said that even if their faith were to be tested by fire, it was to be seen as praise, honor, and glory unto Jesus Christ and His appearing.

Americans, by and large, are unfamiliar with serious persecution. Our faith hasn’t been challenged by horrible oppression. Not yet. I fear that our strength and courage may be found wanting in the event of such persecution. We have become comfortable in our safety, never thinking it could come to a sudden and catastrophic end.

“God bless America!” we say and sing, while our hands drip with the blood of murdered unborn children. While we kick God out of the public square, the schools, and even Christmas displays, we still expect Him to protect and shelter us in spite of our rejection of Him.

That’s just not the way it works.

An Inheritance Incorruptible

I Peter 1:4-5.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

To put this passage into context, the previous verse, I will repost it here:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

You will notice that the verse ends with a comma, not a period. That is because the book was not written as individual verses, but as a letter. The verse divisions are helpful in locating a passage, but we need to remember that they were created later by translators.The book was intended to be read all in one piece.

So, “. . . . .unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible. . . . . “

Jesus rose from death and the grave to an inheritance that will never decay. Because He did so, He paved the way for those who believe in Him to do the same. We are promised, as believers, that our heavenly inheritance never corrupts or fades away, but remains glorious forever. And that is provided for “whosoever will” not by an angry, vengeful God, but by a God of infinite mercy and love.

It is reserved for those of us who are “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” At this point, the glories of heaven are hidden from us except for whatever is revealed in the Bible. It will all be revealed fully in all its incorruptible glory when we get to heaven; or when He comes to take us away at the beginning of the end times.

And by the way, I want to point out the beauty of Peter’s language in this letter. It is almost poetic, and extremely intelligent. Of course, I know it was inspired of God, but God always allows the personality, life experience, education and training of each writer to shine through in the portions they have written.

Peter was not just an ignorant guy who fished for a living.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Family

My oldest son and his wife have lived in Germany for close to 23 years. They have decided to come back to the States, partly to be near us in our “declining years.” I really hope that’s a far future status, but we are delighted to have them home! They flew in on Thursday night, and landed in Philly in all that wind and rain.

As I’ve watched them begin the process of reestablishing themselves here, I’ve realized clearly that this has been a tremendous move for them. They reared their family in Germany, made many friends there, and have loved the history and beauty all throughout Europe. It’s not an easy thing to pull up stakes in a country that has been home. So much had to be left behind, and of course they are, for all practical purpose, homeless here for now.

As always, there is music in my head. Right now, I’m hearing songs like this one:

In reality, all believers are just biding their time here on Earth, where life is but a vapor, waiting to go to our eternal home with God. Another old gospel song says,

A Lively Hope

I Peter 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

What immediately came to mind upon reading this verse was Fanny Crosby’s wonderful song, Blessed Assurance.

This is the living hope, the sure foundation of our faith, the Rock of our salvation! “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchased of God! Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood!”

A living hope is one that is not destroyed by circumstances. It is that which keeps us moving forward when times are tough. It is the sure knowledge that no matter what comes our way, heaven is our final home.
I love the phrase His abundant mercy. It is not through any good that we may do that we can claim salvation. We do not deserve His mercy. We have not, cannot, earn His mercy. Yet, His mercy is abundant. Overflowing. Available to all. Endlessly available. There is never a time, while a person is still alive, when His mercy is not available. It is His desire that ALL should come to repentance, and that NONE should perish. Abundant mercy.

I need to point out, also, that without His resurrection, His death would have been meaningless. Just another crucified Jewish guy. It is His resurrection, His triumph over the grave, that provides us with the sure hope of salvation.