To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Pet 1:1, 2)
Years later, that would be us Peter is addressing—God’s elect. We are strangers in this world; our true home is with God. We may reside in New York, Houston, Seattle or on any of the other 6 continents. For now, we live among the saved and unsaved, the righteous and the unrighteous. We are here for God’s purpose. We are here to share the good news of eternal life through belief in Jesus. Our sins have been forgiven; we are righteous because of Jesus.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When I was a little girl, I pictured God sitting in heaven with all these TV screens around him watching us and directing the actions of the world. I always thought of him having one plan and somehow, obviously miraculously, keeping the world in motion and the people interacting. It never occurred to me he could change his mind. Yet, in Jonah, we are shown he does.
9”Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:9, 10)
I read those words and they give me hope that God hears me when I cry out to him. Jonah is a book of the bible about a prophet of God going into a gentile nation and telling them God is going to destroy them in 40 days (“Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.”). The people of Nineveh are not Israelites that God has spoken to repeatedly about repenting. He sent them countless prophets over the years and they did not listen. Now Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, shows up in Nineveh, walks about the town saying what God told him to say, and the people believed him and repented! They heard and believed! Only by the work of the Spirit could that be possible.
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:11-15)
When we hear the word of God, we have choices of what to do with it. We can allow the devil to take it away from us, we can believe it and follow it for a while but give up when things get tough, we can believe the world over God, or we can hear it, believe it, let it take root in us, and allow it to change us. The Ninevites believed and were changed. They experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.
Lord, I thank you that we get second chances. You lavish your grace upon us when we seek forgiveness. On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many times you have not given me what I deserve but, instead, have loved me—simply loved me. Continue to work in my life creating good soil so your word can take root in my life. I need really deep roots to withstand the trials of this life. I need living water to help your seed produce a crop. In Jesus name. Amen