To anyone who will listen to me or read what I write, I am always telling them about God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), God the Spirit, and the Bible—God’s complete written revelation of Himself to humankind. I attempt to communicate to people how extremely “practical” God and the Bible are for our daily living. God is in the “now” of our lives 24/7, 365. He is fully present in our lives now, and will be for all the eons of time to come, and in eternity. I love the Bible. I love it’s stories, its history lessons, its poetry, its parables, its teachings for our lives. It’s the most practical book ever written—if we read it, understand it properly, and try to obey! what we read in it.
I’ve said or written more times than I can count that the Bible is a “living book” Holy Spirit uses to transform our lives. God gave us the Bible to transform us, not merely to inform us. In some unexplainable manner, God the Spirit uses the printed words of the Bible to leap off the pages and transform our lives…if we read and study it and attempt to obey! what we read.
One of the things I like about the Bible is how it’s very much a “Travelers’ GuideBook” as we fellow travelers make our way through this mortal life enroute to the coming Kingdom of Jesus and then—after that—to our final home, the eternal state of being. With that in mind, this month I’m going to be quoting word-for-word (in personalized, paraphrased, and amplified form) just one chapter in one book of the Bible to show you how practical it is as a guidebook for our journey through life.
Following is a paraphrased version of the first chapter of the New Testament letter (book) written by Peter, one of Jesus’ three closest friends while He was here in the flesh 2,000 years ago. I have not taken any undue liberties with the original Greek language in which Peter wrote his letter. I have only done what teachers are instructed to do in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, chapter 8, verse 8:
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, clearly explaining what was being read, faithfully amplifying it [developing it more fully] so that the hearers clearly understood each passage being read.”
Peter wrote his first letter to other Jesus-believers in the early 60’s A.D., toward the end of his own mortal journey. He wrote his letter to those who clearly understood they, too, were sojourners and pilgrims during their mortal lives. He wrote the letter to encourage Jesus-believers who were suffering various types of persecution because of their relationship with the Living Lord Jesus. You do know, don’t you that originally there were no chapters and verses in the Greek and Hebrew languages in which most of the Bible was written? Chapters and verses were added many centuries after the books and letters of the Bible were written.
“Hello” From Peter
Here’s the personalized, amplified, paraphrased first “chapter” of Peter’s letter:
“Hello, [insert your name here]. This is Peter writing you; remember, I am one of Jesus’ first 12 followers. Jesus has commissioned me to write to you temporary sojourners living as foreigners and aliens in this world—who have been scattered throughout the region of [modern-day] central Turkey. God the Father knew you long before you were conceived and chose you to be set apart to live obediently to Jesus because you have been sprinkled with his cleansing blood. May you experience more and more of God’s grace and abundant peace.
Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus! Out of his boundless mercy, God has given you a second birth and an ever-living hope because He brought his Son, Jesus, back to life after He was killed. Yes, you have been born2 to a brand-new life—to an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade—kept safe in heaven for you. You are shielded by God’s power through faith until the full salvation of your entire being—body, soul, and spirit—when Jesus returns to earth for us.
Joy During Testings
Be extremely joyful about these things, though for a little while you may have to suffer different kinds of testings. The purpose of these testings is to test your faith as fire ‘tests’ and refines gold to make it more pure. Your faith is infinitely more precious than gold, and by passing your tests, it will give praise, honor, and glory to God when Jesus returns. Though you have never seen Jesus, you love Him. And without seeing Him, you trust in Him. You are extremely joyful with inexpressible joy and praise that is glorious beyond words as you obtain the complete salvation of your bodies, souls, and spirits—the goal and destiny of your faith.
Prophets and Angels
This complete salvation you have through Jesus is something the Old Testament prophets carefully researched and investigated. Long ago, they prophesied of this gracious salvation you would experience, even though they had many questions about what it could all mean. They wondered what the Spirit of Jesus within them was talking about when He told them in advance of Jesus’ sufferings and his great glory afterwards. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen.
God revealed to the Old Testament prophets that the things they spoke and wrote about wouldn’t happen during their lifetimes, but many years later, during yours. Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, took what those prophets spoke and wrote and now makes them plainly known to us. Your complete salvation is so wonderful that even angels yearn to understand such matters!
Therefore be vigilant about what you put into your minds—keep them clear and ready for action. Be self-controlled, and place your hope fully upon the abundant grace that is to be brought to you when Jesus returns. Because you are God’s children who obey Him, don’t let yourselves slip back into the evil living you used to practice before Jesus came to live permanently in your lives. Don’t ever return to sin, which is living your old self–filled lives instead of your new, God-filled lives.
Before, you lived only to satisfy your own desires because you didn’t know any better. But because God who has called you is holy, you must also be holy in all your behavior. The Old Testament Book of Leviticus says, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ So, if you call God your Father, live in reverent awe of God during your time as foreigners and temporary residents on earth. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done—and doesn’t play favorites.
Realize that you weren’t set free from a pointless or aimless life by a payment of silver or gold—an empty life handed down to you by the dead traditions of your ancestors. Rather, the payment that freed you from your self-filled, sin-full lives was the bloody sacrificial death of Jesus, God’s sacrificial Lamb having no defects or imperfections. Long before anything was created, God knew who the Lamb was to be, but for our good He became publicly revealed for our sake. Through Him you trust in God, who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory.
Now that you have begun to clean up your lives by obeying the truth, have sincere love for your fellow Jesus-believers—love one another deeply with a pure, undivided heart. You were re-born, not from corruptible, human seed, but of immortal, incorruptible God-seed, through the living word of God which lasts through all the eons of time and in eternity. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote:
‘All people are like grass,
and all their beauty fades as quickly as
the beauty of wildflowers;
The grass dries up and the flowers fall,
but the Word of God endures for all the
eons of time and eternity.’
This ‘Word’ is the Good News about Jesus that we proclaimed to you.”
Just as the teachers of the Old Testament did in Nehemiah’s time (as mentioned above), I’d like to explain and clarify some of what you just read—not all of it, but some of the major points Peter made in this first portion of his letter. First, notice that both Peter and his readers knew they were here on earth only temporarily; they knew they were sojourners and pilgrims, here only a short while before dying and being buried to await their resurrection when Jesus returns to earth to usher in his Kingdom.
We’re Not Here For Long
Do you honestly, truly know YOU are here only temporarily? Do YOU honestly know YOU are only a mortal pilgrim and sojourner here on planet earth? If you are a believer in Jesus, do you realize that to one degree or another you are going to suffer because you believe in Jesus? Some believers have died—and are dying around the world this very day—because of their faith in Jesus. Are you willing to suffer and die because you believe in Jesus? Do you know that when you were born2 you received an amazing inheritance from God reserved in heaven for you? And that God keeps and preserves you by his mighty power?
You don’t have to struggle to maintain your inheritance; God preserves it for you. By the way, everything Jesus inherits from God, we inherit, too, because we are “in” Jesus! Any testings you experience are simply to refine your character and better prepare you to be ready when Jesus returns and is revealed to all humanity. Your testings are not unique; every Jesus-believer is tested throughout their mortal pilgrimage. In view of the fact that you were born again and have an inheritance reserved for you by God, are you living a holy life?
Holy = Wholly
The word “holy” can be thought of as being wholly (sounds like holy) like God. Not holier-than-thou, but a mature and complete person—with your body, soul, and spirit being wholly integrated into a harmonious, balanced whole (holy) person. Just as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are wholly and harmoniously integrated into one holy (whole) Person.
Do you truly realize what an incomparable price God “paid” to buy you back out of the “slave market of sin” you got yourself into? Your redemption wasn’t paid with perishable money, but with the imperishable, precious blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the entire world…yours included! All your sin from first to last, not merely some of your sin, but all of it…
“But you are chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you: from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” –1 Peter 2: 9 & 10
To think about this month:
“All our lives here we’re actually travelers—wanderers—without a permanent earthly home. But now we know we are returning travelers—headed to our permanent True Home. All the places we’ve been to here were never our real home, and our True Home is the place we’ve never been.”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December 2020