A Shepherd's Ministry 1 Peter 5b
1 Peter 5:10-14
Stephen Caswell © 2001
A Shepherd Understands His Sheep
Philip Keller, once a shepherd shares some very interesting insights about the make up of sheep in his book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. It is impossible for sheep to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met. Firstly, due to their timidity they must be free from all fear. Next, they must not have any friction with the other sheep, they must be at peace with each other. Third, they must be free from flies or parasites if they are to relax. Lastly, they will not lie down unless free from hunger. Shepherd's care for all these needs.
Two weeks ago we saw God's instructions for His flock. Peter gave instructions for both shepherds and the sheep. In today's passage Peter is involved in a shepherds ministry. He is very aware that Satan is roaming around like a roaring lion seeking to devour the sheep. So Peter endeavors to protect the flock. He seeks to bring them peace through his ministry. Peter shares 4 important facets of pastoral ministry. Prayer, Praise, Preaching, Fellowship
1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Aware of Satan's unrelenting attacks, Peter commits the sheep to God's care. He doesn't just pray that God might be with them in suffering. He prays that God might work through their suffering. This would give them even greater encouragement. When we know God's purposes for suffering we can remain hopeful. Sheep feel secure when the shepherd is watching.
a. God's Calling
Firstly, Peter reminds them that God has called them to inherit His eternal glory. God has chosen to share His glory with us. Satan's trials cannot change this. God's calling and election of His people is sure. Jesus assured His disciples of their eternal security in John 10:27-29: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. God has called lost sheep into eternal glory and we can never lose this.
b. God's Will
Secondly, Peter reminds believers that suffering is part of God's plan for them. God uses it for our good and His own glory. As Christians suffer for their faith they have the opportunity to display God's grace in difficult circumstances. They are able to share how God gives them strength. They can give an account of their hope more effectively when they suffer. Peter also says that this suffering is only for a while. The suffering that believers experience is for a relatively short time. When compared with eternity and the glory such suffering can bring us there is no comparison.
c. God's Grace
Thirdly, Peter reminds them of God's grace. He alone is able to give them the grace required to stand. Peter knows that the trials and temptations believers go through are primarily a spiritual battle. To stand fast in our faith and resist the devil requires God's grace. So Peter prays that these precious sheep might stand firm through their suffering. Peter asks God to work in their lives in four different ways; to perfect, establish, strengthen and settle.
The word translated perfect katartizw means to equip, to adjust, to fit together. God has several tools which He uses to equip His people for life and service, and suffering is one of them. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the Word of God is another tool, where thoroughly furnished means fully equipped. He also uses the fellowship and ministry of the church. Our Savior in heaven is perfecting His children so that they will do His will and His work. The word establish sthrizw means to fix firmly, to set fast, to make stable. Christians must not be unsteady in their stand for Christ. Our hearts need to be established, and this is accomplished by God’s truth. Peter mentions this in verses 12 also. The believer who is established will not be moved by persecution, or led away by false doctrine.
The word strengthen sqenow means to make strong: God’s strength given to us to meet the demands of life. What good is it to stand on a firm foundation if we don't have power to act? 1 Peter 5 verse 6 tells that God's hand is mighty. If God has the power to create the worlds and raise Christ from the dead, surely He can strengthen us, can't He? The word settle qemeliow translates a word that means to found, or to lay a foundation. The house founded on the rock withstood the storm. A believer who is equipped by God will continue in the faith grounded and settled. He will not be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. This word speaks of having an unshakable faith.
The mood of these four verbs is optative. Which means that the results of Peter's prayer isn't guaranteed. The perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and settling, of believers in grace, and their perseverance therein, is so difficult a work, that only the God of all grace can accomplish it. Therefore He is to be earnestly sought in continual prayer, and dependence upon his promises.
Brother, The Grass Is Growing
The earliest African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in their private devotions. Each one reportedly had separate spots in the thicket where he poured out his heart to God. The several paths to these little Bethels became distinctly marked; and when any one began to decline in devotions, it was soon apparent to others. They would then kindly remind him, saying, Brother, the grass grows on your path yonder.
Firstly, Peter encouraged the saints through prayer. Only the grace of God can perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us in our trials. I pray for you all each week. Have you let the grass grow over your pathway? I believe that this is the case in our Church. We had 3 at midweek prayer and Bible study. Will you seek God's grace in each trial that you face? Will you pray that God would use trials to grow your faith? Will you pray with your brethren too?
1 Peter 5:11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Don't Praise The Pastor, Praise God
One Sunday morning after the service a woman came up to the pastor and thanked him for the encouraging sermon he had preached. In response the pastor said, Why don't thank me, thank the Lord. She said, well I thought of that, but it wasn't quite that good. The pastor's sermon may rarely be worthy of praise, but God always is!!
a. God Is Worthy
Because of God's goodness to us Peter breaks into a doxology of praise. Praise is a fitting response to God's marvelous grace. Because it's so easy to take God's goodness for granted we should praise the Lord often. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; From this doxology we learn that those who have obtained grace from God should ascribe to Him all glory, dominion, and power, for ever and ever. Let us be not become so familiar with God's grace that it loses its wonder. Praise is always appropriate for believers. Our praise can take the form of personal prayer or corporate praise in the worship services. Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is fitting.
b. God's Perspective
Praise also helps us to look at our circumstances from the right perspective. Praise enables us to see a big God Who can help us with our small problems. When we only bring our needs before God we are both ungrateful and imbalanced. We are imbalanced because the needs we have are bigger than the God we are praying to since we mention them first. Peter praises the God of grace who is able to strengthen and establish His children through trials. He praises God who has called us by grace into His eternal glory. He praises the Lord Who will complete His good work in us.
The second way Peter encouraged them was through praise. Peter recognized God's greatness. With the pressures of life it's so easy to take God's goodness for granted! Yet, praise helps us to see our problems in the right perspective. Often our trials seem much bigger than they are because we don't stop to praise God. How often do you praise God for who He is? Do you praise God for His sovereignty, holiness, power, wisdom, love, mercy and grace? Do you thank Him for answered prayers? Do you praise Him for His salvation and your eternal reward? Will you determine to praise God in your trials from now on?
1 Peter 5:12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.
In verse 12, Peter states his purpose for writing this letter. Peter wrote this letter to encourage believers to stand firm in God's grace. He shared the Word of God with them. Peter exhorted and testified of the true grace of God. God's Word always encourages His people if they will listen to it. D.L. Moody said this about the Bible. It is easier for me to have faith in the Bible than to have faith in D.L. Moody, for Moody has fooled me lots of times. The psalmist found encouragement in God's Word. Psalm 119:14-16 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. The Word reveals God's grace for trials and this is truly encouraging news.
God's Word is indeed green pasture for hungry sheep. When we feed on God's Word and allow it to strengthen our beings it is much easier to stand firm in trials. Although Peter's letter was only short, it has great value to those who will listen. There is great nutrition for hungry sheep in God's Word. Suffering cannot be avoided but God's grace is sufficient for it. God's grace enables believers to stand fast in the midst of their trials. In our study of 1 Peter, we have seen how the three themes of suffering, grace, and glory are united to form an encouraging message for suffering saints. These three themes are summarized in 1 Peter 5:10, a verse we would do well to memorize. This has been Peter's theme from beginning to end. In fact, the word grace is used in every chapter of 1 Peter; some ten times in all.
Grace is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering and turn trials into triumphs. It is grace alone that saves us. God’s grace can give us strength in times of trial to enable us to serve God in spite of difficulties. Whatever begins with God’s grace always lead to glory. Our faith rests upon the sure promises of God's Word. Therefore let us observe this and seek God's grace. Truly, our salvation begins and ends with God's grace. Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Finding God When I Need Him
Karen's mother was startled to find her five year old daughter going through a new Bible story book and circling God wherever it appeared on the page. Stifling her first reaction to reprimand the child for defacing the book, she quietly asked, Why are you doing that? Karen's answer was simple but profound; So that I will know where to find God when I need Him. Wouldn't that be a good attitude for us to have? To be confident that we can find God in the Bible if we will look for Him.
The third way Peter encouraged suffering saints was by sharing God's Word with them. The letter he wrote testifies of God's grace. This can help believers a great deal. Do you find encouragement in God's Word? Do you study His Word daily? Do you apply it in your life? Are you building your life on the promises of God's Word? We neglect it to our own peril!
5:13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.
a. Greetings From Babylon
In the closing two verses Peter shares some personal greetings. Peter relayed a personal greeting from John Mark and the church at Babylon. He expressed their love and concern for their suffering brethren. A greeting from another believer is always encouraging. Babylon could be another name for Rome or Babylon itself. Either interpretation is possible although I prefer literal Babylon. The important thing is that, we must always remember that the Lord has sheep in other pastures. We must love all of God's people where ever they are, regardless of their race or denomination. We must love all believers, pray for them and greet them when we can. We should particularly remember persecuted saints. Christian greetings sent between Churches can help to encourage this. After all we are all one in Christ. Letters from Glory Gate Baptist Church in Fiji always carry a Christian greeting. That's the way it should be.
b. Greet One Another
5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
In this final verse Peter encouraged believers to greet one another. Christian fellowship helps the Church to express their love and concern for one another. There shouldn't be any strife between God's sheep, only His peace. Sheep will never relax and enjoy warm fellowship whilst strife remains between them. We must not bear grudges against other believers.
The kiss of love is still practiced in the Middle East. Men would kiss men and women would kiss women. We accomplish the same thing with a warm handshake or hug. Let us take the time to greet one another after the service is over. Don't rush off to your homes. We all benefit from Christian fellowship. Peter also prayed that God would bring peace to these suffering saints. 1 Peter begins and ends with God's peace. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We can know God's peace in our trials as we seek His grace.
Fellowship And Steadfastness
During World War II, the enemy conducted experiments to find out the most effective type of punishment to get information from prisoners. They found that solitary confinement was the most effective. After a few days of solitary confinement, most men would tell all. That is why believers need fellowship. Without fellowship believers become easy prey for temptation and abandon their Christian values. Christian fellowship helps us to encourage each other in our trials. We realize that we aren't alone. Others are suffering too. We are all in this together. We can support each other and pray for each other too.
Can I encourage you to take the time to greet your brethren when you meet them down the street as well as at Church. A warm welcome can greatly encourage another saint. Will you practice this important part of the Christian life? Will you choose to forgive one another?
Today we have seen how Peter encouraged these suffering saints. He used four different means to accomplish this.
1. Prayer 2. Praise 3. Preaching & 4. Fellowship
Firstly, In light of Satan's attacks, Peter prayed for the sheep. Pastors must pray for their flock. I pray for you all each week. But this ministry shouldn't be limited to only pastors. Are you involved in prayer ministry? Do you pray that God will perfect, strengthen, establish and settle you in your trials? Do you pray for your brothers and sisters also? Or have you let the grass grow over your pathway? Would God accept your excuse for not attending midweek prayer and Bible study? Although our trials only last for a while, we must seek God's grace if we want to stand firm.
Secondly, Peter praised the Lord for who He is. He praised Him for His grace and protection. Because God's salvation is so rich how can we not praise Him? He is worthy of our praise and worship. Do you praise the Lord for His holiness, sovereignty, grace, mercy and faithfulness? Do you thank Him for His presence and grace within your trials?
Thirdly, Peter shared God's Word with them. He fed the flock with rich pasture. Are you feeding on God's Word each day? Are you taking in the word when it is taught at Church and Bible study? Are you using the Word to strengthen your life? Or are you neglecting it?
Fourthly, Peter encouraged the flock to share fellowship together. He sent a greeting from another Church. He encouraged them to greet each other. Fellowship is vital for the flock of God. When believers don't flock together they are more easily lead into temptation. Will you place fellowship high on your list of priorities? Will you greet your brethren and encourage them? Will you choose to forgive your brethren and not bear grudges? Will you express your love for your fellow sheep by taking an interest in them? Will you pray for our brethren who are suffering for the Lord?
1 Peter 5:10-11 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.