Pilgrims of Whom the World Has No Hold

Today’s selected reading is found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Tithynia. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:1-2).

 

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold, that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

 

            “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

 

            “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

 

            “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the previous blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last time for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:17-21).

 

            “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because, All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:22-25).

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find an epistle that is similar to the epistle written by James in that it too was written to a people who were scattered. If you read the opening verse of the epistle written by James you will find an epistle that was written to the twelve tribes of Israel which were scattered abroad. The epistle written by the apostle Peter was written to a completely different type and group of people as is evidenced in the first and opening verse. Upon a careful examination of the first and opening verse of the first chapter you will find the apostle Peter writing unto “the pilgrims.” Stop there before moving on any further within this epistle for there is something to be said about the audience to whom the apostle Peter was writing this epistle. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those to whom the apostle was writing. Those to whom the apostle Peter was writing to were such which were referenced in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi. Moreover the epistle written by the apostle Peter was written unto those likened unto those to whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote. Within these two passages of Scripture we find both the apostle Paul and the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews writing concerning a group of people in the earth which can best be described as nomads. What’s more is I would dare say these individuals aren’t known simply as nomads but spiritual nomads who although they live, dwell and move upon the earth they are not of the earth. In fact this is a reality which our Lord Himself declared unto the disciples as referenced in the middle of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John.

 

            If you take the time to read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find this apostle of Christ included in his gospel the account of the Lord emphatically declaring unto them their spiritual journey here within and upon the earth. The more you read the words which are found in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John the more you will encounter the wonderful truth surrounding the idea that although we are in the world we are not of the world. Although we are in the world we have indeed been called and chosen out of the world—something that was evidenced by Jesus’ call to the disciples to follow Him. If you read the four New Testament gospel narratives written by the various gospel authors you will find different accounts of the Lord Jesus calling and inviting the disciples to come and follow Him—and not only come and follow Him but also to walk with and fellowship with each other. There is something incredibly unique about the words and language which is found within the four gospel narratives for they bring us face to face with the Lord Jesus and his call to the disciples and others to come and follow Him. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without coming face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the invitation to walk with and follow Him as well as to walk with and fellowship together with each other. If there is one thing we must understand it’s that the call to follow Jesus is not only the call to walk with and follow Him but it is also the call to walk with and fellowship together with others. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospels concerning what it truly means to come after and follow the Lord Jesus:

 

            “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:32-39).

            “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

 

            “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).

 

           

            “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:23-27).

 

            “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is great a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).

 

            We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the incredibly powerful truth surrounding the call and cost of discipleship. THE CALL AND COST OF DISCIPLESHIP! If I am being honest with many of you who might read these words I have to say there are many among us within our churches who have absolutely no idea or clue what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. There are countless men and women among us within our churches who have absolutely no idea or understanding of what it means to truly walk with and follow Jesus and that which it requires and demands of them. There are many among us who have made the decision to walk with, to follow, to come after and to pursue Christ because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There are many who have made the decision to walk with, follow and come after Jesus because He alone can offer them salvation and deliverance from death, hell and the grave. There are countless men and women among us within our churches today whose discipleship is incredibly shallow and even self-defeating. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to why we are truly walking with and following the Lord Jesus. If you are being honest with yourself—and not only with yourself but also with the Holy Spirit—why did you make the decision to walk with, follow, and come after the Lord Jesus? Why did you make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus when you made that decision however long ago? How we answer this question can indeed and will in fact determine the quality of our discipleship in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

            As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and the call He gave to His disciples—and not only to His disciples but to the multitudes who would gather themselves around Him as He journeyed through Galilee and Judaea. It was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that whoever confesses Him before men that same person will be confessed before His Father who is in heaven. Conversely, however, Jesus would go on to declare that whoever denies Him before men would also be denied before the Father who is in heaven. What makes these words all the more captivating when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that it was Jesus Himself who declared that He would confess before His Father in heaven those who confessed Him in the earth while denying before His Father in heaven those who denied Him before men in the earth. Jesus would also go on to declare that He did not come to bring peace on the earth but a sword. He would declare how He came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter in law against her mother in law and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. This would be immediately followed by the Lord Jesus declared that anyone who loves father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him and anyone who loves son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of Him. Jesus not only spoke these words but He would also declare that anyone who does not take their cross and follow after Him was not worthy of Him. Those who found their life would lose it and those who lose their life for His sake would find it.

 

            If you continue reading within the four gospels you will find Jesus introducing the cross—not necessarily as a means of His own suffering and death although that would in fact be true. As you read the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark and Luke you will find that before the cross would ever be understood as the instrument of Jesus’ own suffering and death it would first be understood as an instrument of discipleship. Within the Synoptic Gospels you will find the cross as a symbol and representation of the suffering and death of Jesus’ disciples themselves. Within these three gospels you will find Jesus emphatically declare that those who did not take up their cross and follow after Him was not worthy of Him. Upon coming to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that if anyone desired to come after Him they must deny themselves, they must take up their cross and follow Him. Jesus would follow this up by declaring that whoever desired to save his life would lose it but whoever lost their life for His sake would find it. Jesus would then ask what profit it was to a man if he gained the whole world and lost his own souIl. Not only this but Jesus would also ask what a man would give in exchange for his soul. It would be in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we find additional words of Jesus when Jesus went on to declare that anyone who was ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation—of that one the Son of Man would also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. Jesus would go on to declare unto the great multitudes who went with Him that anyone who came to Him they did not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even their own life cannot be his disciple. Once more Jesus would declare that whoever does not bear their cross and come after Him could not be His disciple. Jesus would also declare that anyone who did not forsake all that they have cannot be His disciple.

            It is quite clear from the words which are found in these passages of Scripture that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who recognize the call to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow after Jesus. Jesus emphatically declared that anyone who did not take up their cross and follow after Him was not worthy of Him. Moreover Jesus would also declare that anyone who did not forsake all they have cannot be His disciples. This is something which must needs be recognized and understood within our hearts and souls for when we think about walking with and following the Lord Jesus we must needs recognize that which it demands and requires of us. I am convinced there are countless men and women among us who have absolutely no understanding of what it truly means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus in this life. There are countless men and women among us who have absolutely no idea or understanding of what it means to walk with the Lord Jesus and whose lives are nothing more than an escape plan from the fires and destruction of hell itself. There are many among us whose sole ambition and desire of walking with and following the Lord Jesus is simply because He is their Savior who has delivered them from their sins and has made the way for them to be delivered from sin, from death, from hell and the grave. When, however, it comes to true discipleship and their denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Him their faith is incredibly shallow. Those who make the decision to walk with and follow after the Lord Jesus without a willingness to deny themselves, take up their cross and come after Him are themselves deceived within their hearts and minds and might find themselves as such who would turn back and walk no more with Him when persecution, suffering, affliction and opposition arises for the sake of the word and name of the Lord Jesus.

 

            It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the New Testament gospels concerning the call which Jesus gave to come after and follow Him. Within the New Testament gospels you will find specific examples of those individuals whom Jesus specifically and deliberately called them to walk with and follow Him and yet the call to come after and follow Him was given to any who would heed the call and obey His words and voice. The four gospels are replete with example(s) after example(s) of the Lord Jesus giving the call to walk with and follow Him. With this being said, however, we must needs understand and acknowledge what it means to truly walk with, follow and come after Him. IN order to understand this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are are found in the New Testament gospel accounts and the call Jesus gave to walk with and follow after Him. In order to understand the reality and concept of being pilgrims in the earth which the apostle Peter spoke of in the first epistle written unto such individuals in the earth there is a great need to understand what it means to be a pilgrim in the earth—one who forsake everything in the earth that they might indeed live as spiritual nomads in the earth. Such individuals—spiritually speaking—would indeed live their lives as did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived their lives in the earth as strangers and pilgrims in the land of Canaan according to the word and command of the living God. IN order to understand this concept of walking with, following and come after the Lord Jesus I would like to first begin with the account of the rich young ruler who came unto the Lord Jesus asking what he needed to do to be saved. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the synoptic gospels beginning with the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Now behold, one came and said to Him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? So He said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to Him, Which ones? Jesus said, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said to Him, All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack? Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. Then Jesus aid to His disciples, Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said to them, With. Men this is impossible. But with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).

 

            “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? So Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God. You. Know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not commit murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother. And he answered and said to Him, Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth. Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow me. But he was said at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).

 

            “Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? So Jesus said to Him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother. And he said, All these things I have kept from my youth. So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, How hard is it for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich m an to enter into the kingdom of God. And those who heard it said, Who then can be saved? But he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:18-27).

 

            When reading the words which Jesus spoke unto the rich young ruler you will find Him initially speaking unto him and declaring his need to keep the commandments. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus which commandments Jesus would proceed to list for him all the commandments that had to do with his relationship with man. Of the Ten Commandments the first five had to do with man’s relationship to the living and eternal God while the second five had to do with man’s relationship with man. As Jesus spoke unto the rich young ruler concerning which commandments he needed to keep He spoke of those commandments which specifically touched his relationship to man. Upon hearing Jesus speak these words the rich young ruler—perhaps proudly—that he had kept all those commandments from his youth. In addition, however, to the rich young ruler declaring to Jesus how he had kept all those commandments from his youth up he would ask Jesus what he still lacked and what he was missing. It’s important to note that when Jesus heard this question He would deliver and declare exactly what was still missing within this man’s life. Within the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we read Jesus instructing him to go his way, sell whatever he had and give to the poor that he would have treasure in heaven. Moreover Jesus would go on to instruct and invite him to take up his cross and follow Him. This is important for us to recognize for if this rich young ruler wanted to have eternal life it would begin with him delivering himself from riches, wealth and possessions by selling all he had and giving to the poor that he might have treasure in heaven. What we must needs recognize is that when our treasure is in heaven there is nothing within and upon this earth that can appeal to us within our hearts and souls. When our treasure is in heaven this world has nothing upon us and therefore we are not bound nor hindered by this world. It is this reality that is closely aligned with the words of the song that emphatically declares “Take the world but give me Jesus.” The rich younger ruler was invited to deliver himself from the riches, wealth and possessions of this world that it might no longer hold any power or authority over him. It would be in this place—and only in this place—this rich young ruler could then deny himself, take up his cross and follow after Jesus.

 

            Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark and Luke. Before I get into the invitation Jesus gave to the disciples to walk with and follow Him I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the Synoptic Gospels concerning the disciple and apostle’s reward. IN the same chapter where we find the account of the rich young ruler we find Simon called Peter responding to Jesus’s word concerning the rich being unable to enter into the kingdom of heaven by calling to attention everything they left, abandoned and forsook to walk with, come after and follow Him. IN the final verses of the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel—together with the New Testament gospels written by John Mark and the beloved physician Luke—we find the account of Jesus responding to Simon Peter’s declaration and boast how they had left everything to walk with, come after and follow Him. The words we find within these passages of Scripture must needs be carefully considered and understood for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding what it means to come after, walk with and follow Jesus in this life and the reward that is directly associated with doing so. What we must needs recognize when reading these words is that Jesus’ response not only speaks to reward in eternity but they also speak to the reward which is and can be experienced here upon the earth as well. With this in min dI invite you to consider the following words found in the following passages of Scripture beginning with the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Mathew:

 

            “Then Peter answered and said to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have? So Jesus said to them, Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration when the Son of man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:27-30).

 

            “Then Peter began to say to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. So Jesus answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31).

 

            “Then Peter said, See, we have left all and follow you. So He said to them, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left houses or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:28-30).

 

With these words in mind I invite you to consider the following words which Jesus spoke concerning laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven and completely and utterly abandoning any treasure we think we might have within and upon the earth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the following passages of Scripture which can and will invite us to abandon any and all treasure we have here upon the earth that we might have treasure in heaven where neither thieves break in and steal nor moth and rust corrupt and destroy. Here are the following words which Jesus spoke concerning laying up for ourselves in heaven which serve as a powerful truth concerning our living as strangers and pilgrims here upon the earth. Oh I am absolutely convinced that we cannot truly live as strangers and pilgrims here upon the earth if we are such who store up treasures for ourselves here upon the earth. I firmly believe that anyone who lays up and stores for themselves treasures here upon the earth rather than in heaven are such who cannot truly live their lives as strangers and pilgrims in the earth. Such individuals—like the rich young ruler—demonstrate that this world and not heaven is indeed their home. Those who store up treasures for themselves here upon the earth rather than in heaven above are such who demonstrate that heaven is not their home and that they are indeed of this earth and the earth holds more sway over them than heaven itself. Oh having said this I invite you to look at the following words which are found in the following passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

            “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:19-34).

 

            “Then one from the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. But He said to him, Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you? And he said to them, take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the significance of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we encounter and come face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth that we dare not and must not be such who lay up for ourselves treasures in this world as did the rich young ruler and even as the man in the parable Jesus spoke as recorded in the New Testament gospel written by Luke. There is a great need for us to recognize the significance of these words for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely powerful truth that in order to truly be disciples of the Lord Jesus—those who walk with, follow and come after Him—we must needs deliver ourselves from the possessions and goods of this world. Those who live as strangers and pilgrims in this world are those who recognize that this world has absolutely nothing for them and live their lives as though their treasure is indeed found in heaven. Just like the children of Israel knew and understood that the wilderness was not their home nor their inheritance but that there was an inheritance in the land of Canaan so also we recognize and understand that this world is not our home nor is this world our inheritance. What’s more is there must needs be a great need for us to completely and utterly deliver ourselves from the worldly goods, possessions and treasures in this life that we might indeed have treasure in heaven. This is what Jesus urged in the Sermon on the Mount and what He promised when speaking unto Simon called Peter in response to his statement about forsaking everything in this world. Oh those who live as strangers and pilgrims in this world are those who have completely and totally delivered themselves from anything this world has to offer that they might have treasure in heaven as they have denied themselves, taken up their cross and followed after Jesus.

 

            With this all in mind I invite you to now consider the following words which are found in the four gospels and the invitations Jesus gave to others to walk with and follow Him. Consider if you will the following words beginning with the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee’s their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed Him” (Matthew 4:18-22).

 

            “And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Then another of His disciples said to Him, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:18-22).

 

            “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, Follow me. So he arose and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).

 

            “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, Lord, I will follow you wherever you go. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Then He said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house. But Jesus aid to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).

 

 

            “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, Follow me. Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, We have found him of whom Moss in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:43-45).

 

            Each of these passages perfectly describes the call of Jesus given to individuals to come after and follow Him including Simon and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, Matthew the tax collector, Philip, and others. These passages don’t include the reference of the rich young ruler whom Jesus also invited to come after and follow Him. These passages are incredibly necessary to call and draw our attention to the truth surrounding strangers and pilgrims in the earth being those who have been and were willing to abandon and forsake everything that they might walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. Jesus called the twelve disciples to walk with and follow Him and we have the account of His calling Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, Matthew the tax collector and Philip. We don’t have the accounts of Jesus calling the others to walk with and follow Him, however, we know that he did in fact call them to walk with and follow Him in this life. What we must needs recognize and understand is that Jesus declared that foxes have holes and birds have their nests but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head. Those who make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus are those who must needs completely and utterly abandon absolutely everything in this life that they live completely free and delivered from the cares of this world, the wealth of this world, the possessions of the world, and absolutely anything and every the world has to offer. Living as strangers and pilgrims in this world does indeed require us to live our lives completely and utterly delivered and free from anything this world has to offer. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi as well as the words which were written in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews concerning living as strangers and pilgrims in the earth:

 

            “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:18-21).

 

            “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

 

            “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

 

            “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in deeds and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:35-38).

 

            Before returning to the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the pilgrims which were scattered abroad throughout places such as Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia and other places I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is in this passage of Scripture we find Jesus’ great prayer which He prayed for His disciples just before He was betrayed by Judas and would begin His suffering in the flesh prior to being crucified upon the cross. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse:

 

            “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you, as you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (John 17:1-5).

 

            “I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things which you have given me are from you. For I have given to them the words which you have given me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. And all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept y them in your name. Those whom you gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself,  that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:6-19).

 

            “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which you have given me; for you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known you, but I have known you; and these have known that you sent me. And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:20-26).

 

            As you return to the epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him writing unto them and addressing them as “the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” The apostle Peter also goes on to address them as the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. What makes the words which a re found here incredibly intriguing is that within the New Testament book of Acts you get the strong sense of different times when the saints of God and believers were dispersed throughout the known world during those times. In the eighth chapter of the book of Acts we find a great persecution breaking out in Jerusalem against the Christians and followers of the way. As a direct result of this they were scattered from Jerusalem into Judaea, Galilee and even Samaria. What’s more is that when you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find in the eighteenth chapter that Aquila and his wife Priscilla were forced from their home in Rome because they were Jewish. Within the New Testament book of Acts we find different examples of those who were forced from their homes and dispersed throughout the earth. Perhaps a perfect modern example of this is Syrians who were forced from their homes because of the war which was breaking out in the midst of the country due to ISIS, due to the Assad regime and due to foreign forces driving them out of their home. Another example might even be those in Ukraine who are forced from their homes because of the “war” that is taking place as Russia invaded Ukraine. Other examples of this are the countless Christians in Islamic countries who have been forced from their homes because of the “fight or flight” principle. FIGHT OR FLIGHT! In all reality this principle of “fight or flight” is at the very core of physical adrenaline, however, we must needs recognize and understand that it is just as true in the spiritual realm as it is in the physical realm.

 

            If you read the words which are written in this epistle you will find the apostle Peter writing unto them concerning God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy had begotten them again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For those strangers and pilgrims in the earth they have been raised to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away and is reserved in heaven for them. Please pay close attention to this concept of an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled which does not fade away and is reserved in heaven for this is in direct alignment with what Jesus Himself spoke of concerning treasure in heaven. Remember when the seventy returned from going forth throughout the land and spoke of the demons being subject to them in Jesus’ name? What was Jesus’ response? Jesus instructed them not to rejoice that demons are subject to them in His name but rather that their names are written in the Book of Life. I am convinced the treasure which Jesus spoke of in heaven is the treasure of inheritance as we have been raised from death to life and to an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled. We live as strangers and pilgrims in the earth because we know that this world is not our home and that we have an inheritance which is reserved in heaven for us. Moreover we know that we are indeed kept by the power of God through faith for salvation which is ready to be revealed in the last time. In addition to this we must needs recognize that living as strangers and pilgrims in this world can indeed and will in fact put us at odds with the world and the corrupt systems which are in place. It was the apostle Peter who would also write unto them how they greatly rejoice—though for a little while—they were grieved by various trials that the genuineness of their faith which is more precious than gold which perishes might be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. These strangers and pilgrims to whom the apostle Peter wrote were such who were walking through the testing of their faith through trials of fire and is something we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and acknowledge that we have indeed been called to be strangers and pilgrims in this world and that those who are strangers and pilgrims are such who recognize that in this world we can and will face many trials, troubles, tribulation, suffering and persecution. In fact it is the apostle Peter who would write such words later on in this epistle in the fourth chapter:

 

            “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now, If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it incumbent to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the first and opening chapter. The apostle Peter admonished his readers and audience to gird up the lions of their mind being sober that they might rest their hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter admonished them as obedient children who were not conformed to the former lusts as they were in their ignorance and might indeed be holy in all their conduct as he who called them is also holy. These saints which were scattered were admonished to conduct themselves throughout the time of their stay here upon the earth in fear knowing that they were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from their aimless conduct but with the precious blood of Christ. The apostle Peter admonished them to love one another fervently with a pure heart having been born again—not of corruptible seed but incorruptible through the word of God which Ives and abides forever. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding how we are to live our lives and conduct ourselves in light of knowing we are strangers and pilgrims in this world, knowing that the Lord Jesus is indeed coming back again and knowing that we do not have an inheritance in this world. Oh that we would be men and women who deliver ourselves from the cares of this world, the possessions of this world, the riches and wealth of this world and everything else the world has to offer that we might indeed walk as those who know and understand this world is not our home and with every fiber of our being emphatically say with confidence “Take the world but give me Jesus.”

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