Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24 – God’s chosen people

This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.  (1 Peter 1:1,2  NLT)

The Old Testament repeatedly spoke of God’s “chosen people”.  They were to be a special people chosen out of all the other peoples of the earth to be a beacon of holiness and power, a people that manifested the glory of God, a testimony that would cause other nations to be drawn to God, and a people whose morals and ethics would convict the world of its sin.  But even in the Old Testament, the chosen people were not limited to the physical descendants of Jacob, anyone that submitted to circumcision and to the Law of God could also become an Israel.  That’s why we see Naaman, a Syrian army general, being healed by Elisha even though he was a non-Jew, and Ruth and Rahab becoming important figures in the story of the children of Israel — the first was a Moabite, a the second was a resident of Jericho as it was about to be destroyed. 

But here, Peter uses “chosen people” in the New Testament sense, meaning all who trust in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and live by faith.  Just like the Jews scattered throughout the cities of what is now modern-day Turkey, we are also called to live like foreigners in this world, surrounded by people we refuse to imitate, living lives that appear strange and different, at times even being persecuted for our beliefs.  We are God’s people.  We don’t belong to the world, and we cannot be bound by its urges and desires.  God has called us to live like foreigners in this world.

Long ago God knew us and chose us — before we knew Him, before we were even born.  The way we are living right now (if we life by faith) is something that He determined would happen many years ago, but could not do until we responded to Him in faith and humility, turning from the flesh, and choosing to sacrifice our lives for Him.  Just as being a part of the nation of Israel in the past demanded obedience to God’s Law, and rejection of God by His people brought on suffering, spiritual decay, and oppression by their enemy neighbors, being a child of God today also demands that we respond in faith and obedience.  Jesus said that many are called but few are chosen, and we show that we are chosen when we respond to Him in faith and obedience, and continue in that faith and obedience for the rest of our lives.

Out of the 7,000,000,000 plus people in the world, God sees you and me as His chosen ones, as a special people — not because we are the most beautiful and intelligent — but because we have humbled ourselves before Him and are continually striving to have His nature. 

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