1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. So keep a clear mind. Control yourselves. Then you can pray. 8 Most of all, love one another deeply. Love erases many sins by forgiving them.
9 Welcome others into your homes without complaining. 10 God's gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. 11 If you speak, you should do it like one speaking God's very words. If you serve, you should do it with the strength God provides. Then in all things God will be praised through Jesus Christ. Give him the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (New International Reader's Version)
Here apostle Peter is warning the early church that the end is near. If the end was near for them over 1900 years ago, how much more is the end near for us? I dunno.... Mark 13:32 "No one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows." What I do know is that apostle Peter is warning them, and us, to be focused, to be ready, to be prepared, to be serious, to be watchful, to be clear minded, and to be self-controlled, so that we would be able to pray. Hello. That's a call for me. How hard is it for me to pray? I tell you that I worry and fret all month long whenever I know that my name is on the prayer duty list at church. I think about recent events at church, I read over the prayer list, I count my blessings, I think of answered prayers. But when it comes right down to it, most all of that goes right out the window as I'm praying, and I forget most of all what I had planned to say. Prayer for me is hard, and public prayer is even harder. Some people can do it and make it look so easy, but others struggle. I think prayer is something that definitely "gets better" with practice. In addition to my shortcomings as a public pray-er, I'm also distracted as Peter states, by my mind and the distractions of this world.
What my real focus is on in this writing, is the topic of Love. So many times, our families, our friendships, our church, our body (church), our family (church), our business, in fact all kinds of relationships are torn apart due in part to Love - well actually, the Lack of Love. It's hard being human (sigh). Sometimes, it's just hard to love some people. It's hard to look at certain people, and see what's inside them. All too often, I criticize people before I can even think about myself. I do admit that I am very far from perfect. Yet, my human nature is quick to judge others, quick to point out sin and shortcomings in their life while I'm turning around and falling into sin. I need to find and buy me some Jesus Goggles. They are very rare in deed, but are really so cool. Put them on, and they allow you to see the best qualities in others. They allow you to overlook all the "hang-up" you have in others, and see what Jesus sees in that person. Just think of it. Jesus, knowing how evil and sinful mankind was and is, He obeyed His father - God, and come and lived on this earth. He lived a perfect, sinless life so that He could be the way - the only way for us. For you, for me, and for everyone. He chose to die for me, because he loved His father, and because both He and His father - God, loved us.
Peter said it best, and it needs to be said again, 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." The same phrase is used elsewhere in the new testament as well, over in James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are to love each other. We are to look and see others in the same way that Jesus sees them and us. We need to look at ourselves and ask ourselves, "What do I need to correct in my own life" before we start casting stones at other people. Luke 6:42 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye. We need to spend our empty time worrying about ourselves, and where we stand in front of God's eyes, rather than spending our time worrying about some one else's life. We need to spend more time "Welcome others into your homes" being hospitable, being concerned and loving rather than condemning people.
And now, here are some verses, found in the new testament, about Love. It could be argued that I'm taking verses out of context. That may be true. Just read for yourself and you decide.
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
Romans 14:15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
I Love You!
Are you listening to what God is saying in His Word?