As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it’s always a good idea to reflect upon the things we have to be thankful for in our lives.
I recently had the opportunity to preach at a friend’s church, and I selected 1 Peter 1:3-9 as my text. There’s a lot happening in this passage, but I think it will call us to a place of thanksgiving.
Here’s what I know: Church ministry is hard. The work of church revitalization and replanting can be grueling at times. And, perhaps, as we near the end of another year, you wonder if you have the strength to keep going. Let this passage be a reminder to refocus upon the things that really matter. And maybe, just maybe, that will help provide some fuel to keep going just a little bit longer.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Give thanks for salvation, vv. 3-5.
I find it very interesting that Peter begins his letter with a word of praise to the Father for His gift of salvation. But don’t miss the ways he describes the new birth, this “inheritance” – imperishable, unfading, undefiled. In other words, it won’t wear out. It won’t spoil. It won’t get old. What a wonderful promise!
When was the last time you paused to simply thank God for the salvation He’s given to us?
Give thanks in suffering, vv. 6-7.
I so appreciate that Peter mentions various trials. In his New Testament letter, James also calls us to have joy as we suffer various trials. I’m so grateful that Peter and James both mention “various trials.” Why? Because these can refer to any trial you may face in life. So this might be persecution for your faith as a follower of Christ. It might be the suffering that comes from sin (either your own or someone else’s). It might be suffering through a disease or ailment. It could even be a difficult church member.
But look at the outcome of suffering through these various trials. It’s not simply suffering for the sake of suffering. There is a purpose: that the character of our faith may result in “praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” So, whether your suffering comes from a disease or a deacon, God can use it to refine your faith.
Give thanks to the savior, vv. 8-9.
Peter ends this opening section of his letter by turning our attention back to the Savior. Even though we don’t see Christ Jesus, we know He has saved us. We know He loves us. And we know that, ultimately, He will purify His church. This is the promise we have.
These realities don’t make ministry any easier. But if we can live lives of thanksgiving (not just one week out of the year) and keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), we can persevere through even the most difficult of circumstances.
I’m grateful for each of you who labor to see churches brought back to a place of life and health. Happy Thanksgiving to each of you from the Replant Team!
Published November 21, 2023