Message from the publisher:

A Call to Prayer, Love and Service
 By Rich Carmicheal

    The Apostle Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:7-11 seem especially important for this hour. This passage begins: "The end of all things is at hand…." What was true as Peter penned these words nearly 2,000 years ago is even more so today. There are numerous factors in the world that seem to indicate that we are living in the last of the last days. Consider, for example, the increasing concern of mass destruction through chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; the tampering of life through such means as cloning and genetic engineering; the prevalence of violence, immorality and abortion; efforts towards globalization; the spread of false religion; and conditions in Israel. Although Christians have differing opinions on how prophetic events will unfold, many agree that this is a very significant hour. Judgment looms for the ungodly. The Church needs to awaken in preparation for the return of Christ and take advantage of every opportunity to reach out to those who are perishing.

A Call to Prayer

   The passage continues, "…therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." These are not days for mediocrity, complacency or sin, but days to set our hearts and our minds on that which is of eternal significance. These are days for prayer. Prayer is vital because it strengthens our fellowship with the Lord and establishes the foundation for His work in us and through us.

    Peter knew very well the difference that prayer makes. It was soon after his failure to watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane that he fell to the temptation to deny Christ (Mark 14:29-41; 66-72). On the other hand, he was restored to ministry in fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for him (Luke 22:32; John 21:15-17). Following the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Peter devoted himself to prayer, and under his leadership the Lord graciously blessed the Church with the Holy Spirit, with numerical and spiritual growth, and with spiritual power and boldness (Acts 1:14; 2:42,47; 4:24,31; 6:4). It was in a time of prayer that the Lord shared a vision with Peter that opened the way for him to share the gospel with Gentiles (Acts 10:9ff.). It was also in response to the earnest prayers of the Church that Peter was miraculously delivered from prison (Acts 12:5,12).

    In light of the vital role of prayer in Peter’s life and ministry, it is no wonder that he admonishes us to pray. If we desire and expect to see the hand of the Lord move in this crucial hour, we must lay a foundation of prayer. As we devote ourselves to prayer, the Lord will show Himself faithful to work powerfully in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we pray. "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer" (1 Pet. 3:12).

A Call to Love

    Peter goes on to stress the importance of love: "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8). Jesus had warned Peter, James and John that at the end of the age the love of most people would grow cold (Matt. 24:12). Peter’s challenge to us is to keep fervent in our love for one another. The word translated "fervent" carries the idea of "stretched out or put to the full strain." Another form of the word is used in Luke 22:44, "And being in agony He [Jesus] was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood…." In other words, Peter is calling us to love others with great intensity and earnestness.

    Jesus had given Peter and the other disciples a new standard for love: "…even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). He also shared with them that "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Jesus displayed such love as He gave His life on the cross.

    The world is in desperate need of those who will love even as Jesus loves. Such love is costly and requires self-sacrifice, but the Lord works through it to touch the lives of others. This love must be sincere and from the heart (1 Pet. 1:22) and needs to be expressed in very practical ways such as in forgiving others, bearing with one another (Eph. 4:2), sharing with those in need (1 John 3:16), doing good deeds (Heb. 10:24) and in speaking the truth (Eph. 4:15). As we abound in love, we will neither be useless nor unfruitful (2 Pet. 1:5-8).

A Call to Service

    "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Pet. 4:10-11). Although it is difficult to comprehend, God has entrusted His grace to us. Through the special gifts He has given us, He allows this grace to flow through our lives into the lives of others. He speaks His word through us and provides His strength for our service. And as others recognize His grace working in and through our lives, He receives the glory.

    Certainly there are many people today that need to receive a word from the Lord along with a touch of His grace and power. May you and I surrender and consecrate ourselves anew to the Lord, that He may minister to others through our lives and service. May we devote ourselves to prayer and keep fervent in our love for others. These are the qualities that will help awaken and strengthen the Church and impact the world as the end of all things draws near.