Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Entry #18 (1 Peter) - Anxiety is real

Processing 1 Peter 5

Wow!  Peter sure knows how to end a letter.

The truths found in 1 Peter rock my thinking and inspire me, but in the midst of suffering, I admit I easily forget and forsake these truths.

Suffering messes with my mind and my soul. That's why Peter's words below are so important.

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

It's when I am in the midst of suffering...it's when you are in the midst of suffering that we are the most spiritually vulnerable and susceptible to being devoured.

Look, suffering produces anxiety.
Anxiety is real.
The more intense the suffering, the greater the anxiety.
The struggle is real.

The United States has just experienced two major hurricanes.  The first one, Harvey, devastated parts of Texas and a week later Irma devastated parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  People lost loved ones, pets, homes, and personal possessions.  Some lost everything, escaping only with the clothes on their back and are now left homeless. So many are overwhelmed with anxiety. If you were to list their cares and worries you'd be looking at pages and pages.  Of course, they are grateful to be alive, but they are also faced with reality.  And, in this case, the reality is filled with anxiety.  Mentally and spiritually, they are extremely vulnerable.

While some of us are not experiencing this type of devastation and suffering, we all experience suffering. Some suffer because they call themselves a follower of Christ.  Some suffer at the hands of their employers, parents, spouses while others suffer physically.

In the midst of our sufferings, we are extremely vulnerable.  We are in greater danger of being devoured. Oh, I know this truth first hand.  I've already shared suffering messes with my mind and my soul.  As anxiety fills my mind, my faith is assaulted.  My worries cause me to wonder if God cares that I am suffering.  I begin to wonder all kinds of things that God has already revealed to me in His word...but in my "fiery ordeal," I forget.  I don't want to suffer.  It makes me anxious!  Doesn't suffering make you anxious?

Peter reminds me that God knows that suffering messes with my mind and spirit and makes me anxious. Recorded for me and you in 1 Peter 5 is how to deal with anxiety.  Oh, this truth is precious.  It is the remedy for our anxiety.  Spirit of God, engrave these truths on our hearts never to be forgotten.

"Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:1-11.

Let me break it down or list it out.  How do we deal with the anxiety that suffering brings?
  • Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.  How?
  • Cast our anxiety on Him.  Why?
  • Remember, He cares for us.
  • Be sober (calm and collected) of spirit...don't freak out...exercise self-restraint.  Why?
  • Remember we have an adversary waiting to devour us.  But wait...
  • Resist him.  How?
  • Be firm in our faith. How?
  • Remember other believers are experiencing the same kinds of suffering and anxieties as we are.
  • Remember that after we have suffered, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself:
  • Perfect
  • Confirm
  • Strengthen 
  • Establish


Repeat as necessary!  Suffering is a hard pill to swallow but wash it down with these truths.  If the truth about suffering gets stuck in your throat, keep washing it down with these truths.

Anxiety is real.  The struggle is real.  But God shows us how to deal with the anxiety and reminds us of what He is producing as a result of our suffering.  The God of all grace will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

These truths are not only our remedy for anxiety, but it's also how we keep from getting devoured. Gracious God, help us to understand the truth about troubles and how you use them in our lives to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.  

To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Entry #17 (1 Peter) - Fiery Ordeals

Processing 1 Peter 4:12-19

This morning in my journible of 1 Peter 4, I wrote out the following verse.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange things were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)

Fiery ordeals abound.

As I write this, Texas and Louisiana are still recovering from the devastating effects of hurricane Harvey. Irma, a category 5 hurricane is threatening other parts of the US. Destroying everything in their path are the wildfires out West.

At the same time these fiery ordeals make the headlines, I have friends and family who are burying and grieving the loss of loved ones, facing death due to illness or age, battling significant health issues, emotionally distraught from a variety of life events, and on the list could go.

Indeed, fiery ordeals abound.

 According to the word study tools found on http://biblestudytools.com, fiery ordeal means:
  1. the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced
  2. by a figure drawn from a refiners fire
    1. calamities or trials that test the character

I probably didn't need to define fiery ordeal, but you can't just read 1 Peter 4:12 and keep going. It boggles the mind and fills you with the need to break it down so you can actually get your mind around it.

You see, I seem to forget that I'm not supposed to be surprised when fiery ordeals come. Oh my goodness, I seem to always be surprised by fiery ordeals as though some strange thing were happening to me. In the fog of fiery, I forget that the ordeal is testing my character and testing my very faith. I say I believe many things about my God and my life but it is only as I am being roasted and reduced that my faith is proven real and genuine.  Again, in the fiery fog, I lose sight of this very profound truth.

Fiery ordeals can easily overwhelm human strength and emotion. Watching others bear up and endure fiery because of their faith, brings hope and courage to me and I am sure to you. When I see people in Houston who have lost everything and are standing in a shelter singing praises to God, my heart is filled with strength and courage. Genuine and real faith at any time but especially during a fiery trial is a beautiful thing.  Here's what Peter said earlier...

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Our faith in Jesus is more precious than gold.

As I ponder with the Lord these verses this morning, my prayer for those of us who love Jesus and are in or facing fiery ordeals would be that our faith would be proven real and genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor to Jesus. May we keep entrusting our souls to our faithful Creator and do what is right and excellent.  For those who do not yet know or love Jesus, I pray that as they witness the real and genuine faith of us who know and love Jesus, they would be drawn and won to Christ.

Using Peter's words in 1 Peter 5:10, I pray that during your fiery ordeals, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

PS.  I know the context of these verses speaks specifically of fiery ordeals that come as a result of identifying with Christ, but I believe the principles I'm sharing about what trials produce can be found throughout Scripture.

Entry #16 (1 Peter) - Treasures to hide in your heart

Processing 1 Peter 4:1-11

My time in 1 Peter 4 has been rich and given me much to ponder and hide in my heart.  Here are two treasures.

“Therefore since Christ has suffered in the flesh arm yourselves also with the same purpose because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” ( 1 Peter 4:1)

The New American Commentary explains it this way: “…Those who willingly endure scorn and mockery for their faith, show that they have triumphed over sin. They have broken with sin because they have ceased to participate in the lawless activities of unbelievers and endured the criticisms that have come from such a decision. The commitment to suffer reveals a passion for a new way of life, a life that is not yet perfect but remarkably different…"

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)

The New American Commentary explains: "when believers lavish love on others, the sins and offenses of others are overlooked...while those who are full of hatred use the sins of others as a springboard to attack them."

The New American Commentary - Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 198). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Entry #15 (1 Peter 3) - Giving a blessing

Processing 1 Peter 3

What if you could win someone over to Christ without a word?  Would you be willing to try it?
Let's say we have one or more people in our lives that don't know the Lord or have seemingly walked away from the Lord.  What if we prayerfully accepted the challenge to win others over to Christ without a word?
Sign me up.  Are you up for the challenge too?

You ready?

Okay, I'm taking this from 1 Peter 3.  Yes, the context here is how wives can win their disobedient and perhaps unreasonable husbands over without a word, but surely if it works in this relationship, it can work in other relationships like with our employers, parents, neighbors, and maybe even our children.  It's a challenge worth trying, right?  Are you still with me?

Ready, get set...  Here's how we win them over without a word:  Our behavior.  What?  Yep, and not just any kind of behavior.  Specifically, we are to be:

  • Submissive
  • Respectful
  • Honoring of others
  • Good
  • Gentle
  • Hoping in Him
  • No fear
  • Harmonious
  • Sympathetic
  • Brotherly or sisterly
  • Kindhearted
  • Humble
  • Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult
  • Putting aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander
  • Longing for God's word
  • In awe and reverence of God

Now - go!

Perhaps, like me you are thinking: "Woah, wait...not so fast.  I have to think about this a minute.  This is kind of extreme, and if these people are treating me unjustly, that's just plain unfair.  I can't do this.  I "feel" overwhelmed and defeated before I even start.  This challenge is impossible."

At the top of many of my 1 Peter journible pages, I've written the words "epic fail."

As I keep reading though, I understand why I've failed. Excellent behavior is holy behavior and is a supernatural work of my Jesus in my life. It is produced in my as I spend time with Him and in His Word. He changes my heart and my thinking which results in a change in my behavior.

Huge difference in me trying to muster excellent or holy behavior and Jesus moving in me to behave excellently or holy.  You might be thinking I should know this already.  I do but this truth somehow gets lost in the emotions of life. I need to be reminded over and over and over again.

What I've just described, is what God has been doing in my heart as I read, write and process 1 Peter.  My thinking is adjusted to His thinking.  My heart is pricked, exposed, cleaned, and changed. No longer lost in the emotions of life is "why" of excellent behavior.  Oh!  The "why" moves my heart and compels me to fully surrender and beg the Lord to change me.  That I might win other to Christ by my excellent behavior...

Yes Lord.  Do it!  May my behavior glorify you, proclaim your excellencies, silence the ignorance of foolish men and win others to Christ.  No words.  Let my behavior speak and my life be a blessing to all those around me.

Does that mean I'll never talk to anyone about Christ?  No, but... If my behavior doesn't match my talk....  If I am not living out the above list...

It's a challenge alright.  Are you up for the challenge?

Join me in reading and carefully observing 1 Peter. Let's ask the Lord to show us what excellent behavior looks like, how it blesses and impacts those around us why it is so important.  Dear Lord, change us and as you change us and allow us to see how our excellent behavior is impacting the world around us.  Use our holy behavior to win others to You.  

Please let me know if you accept this challenge and what the Lord does as a result.

Ready, set, go...